Guiding Student Research as Associate Director

Pamela BrockAs an assistant professor, Pamela Brock has mentored students and explored clinical research questions. Taking on the leadership role of associate director for the genetic counseling graduate program at OSU, Pam incorporates research and education as she guides students to begin their own research.

With 10 years of experience in a general genetics clinic, Pam’s interest in research stems from engaging with questions that had not yet been answered in scientific literature. In her new role, she will help students in working through the research process for their thesis and seeks to help them identify a topic that will ignite a passion for research within the students. “It’s not a one size fits all,” Pam explains, “If you’re going to spend a lot of hours on a topic, you want it to be something you get excited about.” She describes finding these topics as a creative thought process by getting the students to engage with a variety of areas and people who can provide mentorship and guidance. Working with clinical supervisors, Pam sees the mentorship process as a team effort to support students and provide input from many perspectives.

Pam’s clinical experience covers a wide variety of fields, which she draws on as course director of the Foundations in Genetics classes for the genetic counseling program to educate students on fundamental genetics concepts. One of Pam’s favorite moments is when a student reaches back out to revisit a topic they learned in her courses further in their career, such as when studying for boards or preparing for a challenging case, demonstrating the real-world application of what they’ve learned and bringing it into their genetic counseling.

Advice for prospective students

Pam encourages students looking to join the genetic counseling profession to “immerse themselves and learn as much about the field as possible.” While COVID-19 has restricted shadowing opportunities, Pam notes there are more virtual educational activities available for remote engagement. Particularly in Columbus, she points to the genetics community as a resource rich with knowledge and expertise, a resource she draws on herself when looking for speakers to share their experiences with students.

Part of the genetic counseling graduate program, Pam saw an amazing community and wanted to contribute more to help guide students to launch their careers as they join the genetic counseling community themselves.