NMU hosts genetics symposium

JENNINGS

JENNINGS

Sarah Huiber

Faculty members and students will soon come together to discuss the great importance of medical laboratory sciences right here on NMU’s campus.

NMU will host the first annual Medical Laboratory Sciences and Molecular Genetics Symposium on Thursday, Sept. 26 through Sept. 28. The event will include numerous activities and presentations by NMU graduate students, alumni and faculty members. It will mainly take place at the Northern Center in Ballrooms III and IV, and has other events happening in Whitman Hall, Jamrich Hall and West Science.

Hosted by NMU’s School of Clinical Science (SCS), the main purpose of the symposium is to raise student awareness about medical laboratory sciences and career opportunities, said Matthew Jennings, NMU’s SCS assistant professor and Clinical Molecular Genetics Graduate Program director.

“This free symposium offers opportunities to current students in the clinical sciences [and] is open to students whose majors are yet to be determined and provides a workshop for high school students and their parents,” Jennings said. 

Other speakers include academics from Lake Superior State University and Michigan Technological University, professionals from Mayo Clinic, Marshfield Clinic and UPHS-Marquette and keynote speaker Dr. Marty Soehnlen. Soehnlen is the Director of Infectious Disease Division at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

“There is a significant shortage of qualified individuals to meet the clinical laboratory needs of our population and those needs are expected to increase in the coming years due to an aging population and an aging workforce,” Jennings explained. 

Through the symposium, NMU aims to get young students more interested in the clinical science careers, thus satisfying the growing medical needs of today’s society.

“Clinical sciences offers a variety of disciplines that are attractive to individuals of many different skill sets,” Jennings said. “These skill sets include clinical assistants, phlebotomists, microbiologists, cytotech At a recent Board of Trustees (BOT) meeting, NMU President Fritz Erickson’s salary was increased by 2% and he received an additional performance-based bonus to reward the achievement of his goals. 

In an approved executive committee recommendation, Erickson’s salary increase was brought  up to $392,700 and the bonus totals $38,500. When 13 of Michigan’s 15 universities are seeing enrollment declines, NMU has shown growth with its “cutting-edge academic programs,” pioneering laboratories and top notch facilities, and all of those accomplishments depend on strong leadership, NMU Board Chair Robert Mahaney said in a press release. 

“He set goals for himself and the institution, and he is accountable for those goals,” Mahaney said. “We’re pleased with the success we’ve seen, and part of our commitment to him is to reward him for achieving those goals.”  

The accomplishment reflects students’ accomplishments and the campus-wide initiatives from faculty and staff, Erickson said in a North Wind interview. Though Erickson said he feels grateful that the BOT recognizes his efforts, he hopes to continue the momentum the university has showcased in the past few years. 

“We really accomplished quite a little bit to develop a real culture of innovation of thinking forward, finding ways to do things in exciting ways. The attitude of the university is one of very positive, high power,” Erickson said. “It really is gratifying to see that.”  

NMU has so much opportunity to keep moving forward with many innovative ideas coming from faculty and staff, Erickson noted. Located in the center of the U.P., the university has a standing connection with giving back to the Marquette community and the entire peninsula, and Erickson said he hopes to continue those efforts. 

“We say it all the time, ‘It’s a great day to be a Wildcat.’ [But] it really is,” he said, adding, “When you have such amazing students, and the kinds of commitments that they have and passions, it’s just a delight to be apart of this community.”

nologists and molecular biologists. In addition, there are high placement rates for all of these individuals and jobs can be found throughout the country.”

Jennings will present on Sept. 26, in his presentation titled “Clinical Applications of a Novel AuNP/PNA (Gold Nanoparticle/Peptide Nucleic Acid) Colorimetric Method for Detection of Nucleic Acids.” 

“The talk centers around the development of a novel colorimetric detection method for monitoring exposure to pathogens and focuses on a nucleic acid amplification technique that generates a product detectable by exploiting the characteristics of gold nanoparticle interactions with a peptide nucleic acid,” Jennings mentioned.