|Recruiting for the profession of plant pathology through internships. |
D. M. GADOURY (1). (1) Cornell University, Geneva, NY, U.S.A.
Applications to many graduate programs of plant pathology had declined substantially at many US institutions between 2000 and 2005. The systematic identification of the factors that were most influential in career choices of undergraduates revealed something that should have been quite obvious to professional plant pathologists: that work experience was the most common portal through which most enter plant pathology as a career, and that work experience remains today one of the most powerful means by which we can attract talented undergraduates to the study of plant pathology. The subsequent creation, promotion and expansion of Internship and REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) programs by many departments was accompanied by an increase in applications and enrollments in graduate programs. These programs can be purpose-built to serve a need for research experience, and demonstrably function as highly effective and efficient means of attracting the best undergraduate talent to MS and PhD programs. The key components of a successful Internship/REU program, including funding, promotion, mentoring, content, motivation, and networking opportunities will be presented.