Around the country, the competition to recruit the leading science, technology, engineering, and math high school students is fierce. A newly created honors program may prove to be the difference-maker that brings top students to the university.
The FAU Max Planck Honors Program is the latest expansion of a partnership between the university and the Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience, the only such institute in North America. While the German-based Max Planck Society partners with many universities at the graduate level, the undergraduate honors program will be the first of its kind in the world.
The program will focus exclusively on neuroscience and will be located on the John D. MacArthur Campus at Jupiter. “This program is like no other in the world for undergraduate research quality,” said FAU President John Kelly, Ph.D. “It will propel our national and international visibility as well as enhance partnership opportunities for joint hires, faculty appointments and research grants with our outstanding colleagues at the Max Planck Florida Institute.”
The development of the honors program will be guided by the College of Science, the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College and members from the institute. Ken Dawson-Scully, Ph.D., was recently named associate vice president for strategic initiatives and head of institutional partnerships at FAU and the institute, to lead the initiative.
Dawson-Scully’s new position represents another first – a position supported jointly by the two institutions. He previously served as associate professor of biological sciences and associate dean for graduate studies in FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Science.
FAU and Max Planck have partnered since 2009, which has led to the development of programs including a Ph.D. in Integrative Biology, and the International Max Planck Research School for Brain and Behavior.
Dawson-Scully says the creation of the honors program marks an exciting time. “We’re hitting our groove,” he says. “FAU is making it a priority to attract the best and brightest students to our university.” The new honors program will interest top-level students from around the country, such as National Merit Scholars, by affording them unique opportunities.
Students will be exposed to novel technologies, such as super-resolution microscopy. “They’ll be interacting with faculty at FAU and Max Planck on a regular basis throughout their educational career,” Dawson-Scully said. Students will be required to complete a capstone project and take a minimum of three enrichment courses.
The program welcomes its first students in the Fall 2018 semester. The incoming class will consist of 10 to 20 students; there are plans to grow the program in the coming years.
“Many will choose to pursue graduate degrees in related fields at FAU," says Dawson-Scully. “We see this as a pathway to retain these students.”