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DUSCI Leadership and a New Direction

By Rachel James

There is  a new director of the Drake Undergraduate Science Collaborative Institute (DUSCI). Brian Gentry, who is an associate professor of pharmacology, will replace John Gitua as the new director of DUSCI.

Gitua has served as the director of DUSCI for the past five and a half years and is also an associate professor of chemistry in the College of Arts and Sciences. Gentry has served on the DUSCI faculty advisory board and is an active judge every year at the Drake University Conference on Undergraduate Research in the Sciences (DUCURS) as well as a frequent participant in the Summer Research Fellowship.

DUSCI is a culmination of all things Drake University stands for: giving students the ability to participate in research experiences with faculty mentors, encouraging community engagement in core areas of mathematics and the sciences and aims to increase literacy.

DUSCI is known for the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship and the Drake University Conference on Undergraduate Research in the Sciences. The Fellowship program is an opportunity for students and their mentor to research full-time by providing a stipend for students and their faculty mentor.

At the Conference on Undergraduate Research in the Sciences, many high schools and universities come to be engaged in an open dialogue regarding their research. They are given a space where they are encouraged to collaborate to create a community to be utilized in the future. This is a way for undergraduates to meet others interested in their field of study. For many students, this is a networking chance and helps showcase what a career in the research field can look like.

As for Gentry’s plans for DUSCI, he hopes to continue on the path set by Dr. Gitua and wants to continue to help students build relationships with their mentors.

“I fostered a great relationship with my undergraduate mentor, which continues to this day,” and that it is “my hope to bring that same level of excitement and understanding to Drake’s students,” Gentry said.

These mentor relationships can be long-lasting and help students throughout their journey at Drake. Gentry has high hopes for Drake’s program, and DUSCI is currently regionally recognized.

Gentry has a goal to “make Drake nationally recognized for this.” While this aim will not be effortless, Gentry has faith in the program and believes that it can be “achieved because of the outstanding work of Drake’s students.”

Several of the College of Arts and Sciences students are excited about the change and some of them, who have never been involved, are now interested in the program.

“I’ve heard about it from past students, and I’m interested,” said Casey Hutchins, a first-year pre-pharmacy student.

When asked what he most was looking forward to, he replied, “I’m excited for [the]help to build my future network for job opportunities.”


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