GVSU expands offerings in the health and sciences


    The past few years have seen expansions in two Grand Valley State University health and sciences programs.

    The first expansion, in the radiologic and imaging sciences department, has turned what was one major with three possible emphases into three separate majors.

    “We had a program of study here in (radiologic) imaging, but we didn’t have separate majors in the program,” said Roy Olsson, dean of the College of Health Professions. “We’ve progressed far enough that the fields were uniquely different. We decided that the best avenue would be brand new programs that would represent the three fields.”

    GVSU has become one of only a handful of schools that offer the specific degreed programs.

    “One (major) would be radiation therapy, which is mainly used for cancer. Then we have diagnostic medical stenography. That’s anything from ultrasound to any imaging you would have. That’s a pretty broad field,” he said. “The third one is just an overall radiological imaging science degree that’s pretty much an upper division program.

    “We get a lot of community college kids that have some specialties and certifications already, and we give them some additional certifications. We give them a better avenue to get jobs — MRI might be an example of that. We’re looking into some additional ones in nuclear and some things in that area.”

    Currently, each of the three programs has an enrollment of about 30 students.

    Also seeing recent expansion is GVSU’s cell and molecular biology program, which now has its own academic department. The program began in 2002 as an interdisciplinary program; in 2005, two master’s degree programs were added, said Mark Staves, chair of the cell and molecular biology department.

    “The master’s comes in two flavors. There’s a standard thesis master’s for people who are interested in going on to a Ph.D.

    “We also started a relatively new kind of degree called a professional science master’s, a PSM. (It) combines science with a certain amount of understanding about business, intellectual property and communication.”

    “The idea is that it is not a stepping stone to a Ph.D. but that they go right into an industry position, a government position or running a lab.”

    The professional science master’s program in biotechnology currently has 30 students.

    Undergraduate enrollment in the cell and molecular biology department has been growing, as well, and currently includes 70 students.

    “The thing that’s unique about the undergraduate program is that we require every student to have a significant research experience either here at Grand Valley or they could potentially work at another university or laboratory,” Staves said. “They have to be doing science and later give a seminar on the work that they’ve done. It’s like a miniature research conference.”

    Staves said the students who have completed the undergraduate program either have found jobs in the field or are enrolled in a master’s or doctorate program.

    “Most of our students go off to grad school. … The rest of them start jobs. Almost all of our graduates are working in their field or going on for a Ph.D.,” he said. “They do really well when they go to grad school. They get excellent packages, their tuition and stipend, so we’re very proud of them.”

    He believes the reason the students do well is because of the research they’ve done during their undergraduate experience.

    “I think the reason that they do so well is they must complete a research project by the time they are done. They’ve had that experience of presenting their work at a regional, national, or maybe an international meeting,” Staves said. “Many of them are working on a manuscript by the time they leave here, so they’re really attractive to grad programs.

    “The administration has looked at the program long enough, and they said, ‘This is a good thing. We want to keep it. We want to let it grow and be visible.’ It’s sort of a stamp of approval that it has succeeded up to this point, and we’re going to elevate it to the level of a department.”

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