Jennifer Carden is a member of HudsonAlpha’s outstanding Educational Outreach team. Since 2008, Jennifer has played an important role in the Institute’s efforts to inspire and cultivate tomorrow’s scientists – in Huntsville and across the state.
Q: When did you join HudsonAlpha’s education team?
A: I joined in June 2008 as an educator in residence. I am now the K-12 coordinator, which means I get to work with all of the programs involving teachers and students at the K-12 level. This includes Genetic Technologies for Alabama Classrooms (GTAC), summer camps, DNA Day activities, Alabama Math, Science and Technology Initiative (AMSTI) labs and training and working with schools.
Q: What previous experiences prepared you for your role here at HudsonAlpha.
A: I have a background in both education and molecular biology. This puts me in the unique position of being able to understand the research that takes place here and translate it into talks and activities that make that research accessible to both teachers and students.
Q: Why is the Institute’s Biotech 101 series such a popular program?
A: Most people don’t normally have access to this type of material so Biotech 101 lets them hear from some of the best and the brightest in a comfortable and open environment. As medicine progresses, I think it is important that all of us, whether we are in a science field or not, have the ability to listen, process, filter and understand what we hear in the media and doctor’s office about genetics and biotechnology. Scientific literacy in our society becomes more important with each passing year, and I believe Biotech 101 is one way to help the public stay in touch with some of the latest content and findings.
Q: How do you see HudsonAlpha making an educational impact on our community?
A: HudsonAlpha is making a huge impact on students in our community and all across Alabama. We have reached more than 400,000 students, teachers and lifelong learners through our Educational Outreach programs. A major component is with the development of modules and kits that are distributed to AMSTI classrooms across the state. We also do embedded training in several North Alabama schools, and offer unique opportunities such as BioTrain and Sample to Sequence. Add to those the Web resources available through the HudsonAlpha Web site and our new iCell application and the potential impact is amazing.
Q: What do you most enjoy about your job?
A: Although it sounds cliché, I love everything about my job! The awesome team I work with, the never ending variety of my day-to-day workload, the constant exposure to the latest developments in world- class research, and the ability as a teacher to have an impact on such a wide audience of students, teachers and the public-at-large.
Q: Your team seems to continually be expanding the Institute’s educational reach through a growing number of programs and services. What keeps you going?
A: I see it as forging ahead into new opportunities. Support from an incredible team and a passion for what we stand for make it feel like it’s not a job, but rather an overwhelming sense of, “Wow! I get to be here; I get to be a part of this.”