Training is a way of life at Monell. Students and scientists interested in chemosensory research find the Center to be an outstanding resource for learning. Graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and visiting scientists — more than 400 since Monell’s inception — have come from more than 20 countries to work and learn at Monell.
Senior-level investigators, many on sabbatical leave from academic positions, come to Monell to collaborate with the Center’s faculty, learn new skills, or both. In addition, the Center’s corporate partners often send senior and junior scientists to Monell for specialized training and collaborative research opportunities. In both cases, the length of stay can range from several weeks to a year or more, depending upon the visiting scientist’s needs and interests.
Monell’s strong postdoctoral program attracts beginning scientists from a wide range of disciplines. Approximately 20 post-doctoral fellows, many of whom have no previous formal training in the chemical senses, are trained at the Center each year.
Monell’s interdisciplinary approach is a central aspect of the postdoctoral training program. For example, fellows may be assigned to a faculty member doing research in sensory transduction and also work with a secondary preceptor studying developmental biology, or a fellow studying the molecular genetics of taste might also participate in parallel studies on behavior.
Talented doctoral candidates benefit greatly from the specialized research environment at Monell. Through cooperative arrangements, a student can complete course work at the degree-granting institutions and carry out thesis and dissertation research at Monell. The selection of graduate students from a range of scientific backgrounds complements Monell’s interdisciplinary approach to training and research.
Monell helps to educate and train undergraduate students through grants from local foundations, work-study programs and cooperative arrangements with the University of Pennsylvania and other nearby colleges and universities. Undergraduates from local universities may conduct their Honors Theses under the direction of Monell scientists.
During the summer, college students apprentice or volunteer their services at Monell to gain laboratory experience in the chemical senses. They, along with the Center’s high school student apprentices, participate in weekly seminars of research findings in taste and smell, and also attend seminars on scientific ethics, communication skills, and career planning. Field trips to nearby medical centers and corporate research facilities give students the opportunity to observe and interact with scientific and medical professionals in other settings. Findings from students’ research projects frequently are published in scientific journals.
Since its inception, Monell’s scientists have made a strong commitment to the training of local high school students. Through partnerships with several area high schools, students interested in a career in science work during school hours as research apprentices at Monell and receive course credit. Many conduct their high school science projects under the guidance of Monell scientists.
Monell’s Science Apprenticeship Program brings at least 20 students, including many minority students, to the Center each summer for full-time participation. At the heart of the program is an intensive 7-week internship that allows students to participate in structured research experiences, as well as in a number of enrichment activities. Among the program’s many goals are an increased appreciation of the chemical senses, a demystification of science, the development of critical thought, and hands-on experience with the scientific process. A follow-up evaluation process has shown that the vast majority of apprentices pursue degrees in science.
Members of Monell’s staff also participate in local and international science fairs, serve as consultants to publishers of scientific educational materials, and help teachers develop new areas of classroom study.
Monell’s scientists teach courses in the chemical senses to undergraduate, graduate, and professional students in several departments and schools of the University of Pennsylvania, the Thomas Jefferson University, and other local colleges and universities. Members of the Center’s staff also lecture and offer programs to industrial, professional, and community groups.
Seminars and Conferences
An annual seminar series for staff and members of the academic community features presentations by specialists in the chemical senses and related fields. Monell scientists regularly present their own research for review during in-house seminars. Sharing of interdisciplinary information is a keystone of the Center’s operation.
Monell also hosts conferences and workshops attended by scientists from throughout the world. These meetings frequently combine the perspectives of basic research, development, and translation.