Growing up as a missionary kid in a large family, I learned to be adaptable, independent and inquisitive. This experience also fostered a passion for bringing people together in communities built on individual dignity and mutual respect.
My visit to a sustainable agricultural training center in Vietnam inspired me to pursue an education in plant biology as a means to help others. After graduating summa cum laude from Western Michigan University, my eagerness to learn got me hired as a research tech at Dow Chemical. After 3 years, my superiors and co-workers urged me to get my PhD in order to qualify me to make better use of my talents. At Michigan State University, I designed and led a collaborative project investigating how temperature affects plant disease. My work helped provide the basis for the HEAT project of the Plant Resilience Institute at MSU. Analytical by nature and having acquired strong writing skills, I was affectionately deemed the “protocol queen.” Being goal-oriented, I see efficient methodology as the route to continued learning and increased success.
I embrace working with diverse people and bringing together a variety of perspectives from their various environments. Possessing what some call an “expressive personality,” I have been told my smile is supported by my entire face and my laugh lets you know I’m there. Embracing these attributes, I created a support, training and education community I called “The Pub Club”. Using Boyle’s “Invisible College” model, the “Community of Minds” was born. Meeting weekly, The Pub Club averaged 33 members and hosted monthly guest speakers which totaled 28 over 3 years. To get some of their opinions on the “Community of Minds” experience, read the Testimonials. In 2016, I extended our community internationally, organizing a Skype mini-conference with a Max Planck Institute in Germany.
As a Research Specialist for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, I developed and piloted Biological Investigations of Multi-level Ecosystems, The “BIOME Project”. Designing a collaboration with TheCOM, a lab at MSU, and Calvin University, I used my “Community of Minds” approach to guide this new community-based project which engaged undergraduate students in authentic research. Check it out here and make sure not to miss the student videos at the bottom of the page!
Since then I have implemented my “Community of Minds” approach as an Assistant Professor, a Curriculum Coordinator and an Instructor for an integrated learning environment at MSU. I led the development of curriculum that emphasized the building of key scientific and career-relevant skills, including experimental design; collecting, analyzing, and interpreting data; keeping a laboratory notebook; making and supporting claims using evidence and reasoning; and effective communication. I developed and implemented a Team-teaching approach to provide greater access and support for students, graduate teaching assistants, and undergraduate learning assistants, actively mentoring them along the way. In the face of Covid-19, I designed and piloted a remote/online version of the normally hands-on laboratory course, structured to be easily adapted for a return to a face-to-face environment. In the summer of 2021, I led that return back to campus in the new STEM Teaching and Learning building.
I am currently applying the skills I have developed in scientific inquiry, leadership, project management, communication, community-building and education toward helping others Find their Passion, Identify their VOID, and Bridge the Gap to and within their chosen career. One of the ways I am doing this is by providing one-on-one or group coaching for students working to complete their application packages for the next phase of their careers. (see TheCOM Professional Services)
My website, TheCOMonline.net, serves as a resource Hub to help students and professionals use a “Community of Minds” approach to strategically manage both the Education and the Employment phase of their careers.
To see how I might bring my experience to assist you and/or your community, please drop me a note at BHuot@thecomonline.net