The Comparative Virology Research Training Program (T32 Program) at the Nebraska Center for Virology (NCV) is an Institutional Training Grant funded through the National Institute of Health, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIH NIAID). As indicated in the proposal, the current T32 provides "comparative research training for pre-doctoral students in human, animal, and plant viruses," with a long-term goal of "developing a cadre of junior scientists and researchers who are well grounded in fundamental knowledge of viral pathogenesis and laboratory research experience." Participating trainees are supported in their education to prepare them "to succeed in a range of anticipated careers, from academic to government to the private sector." Graduate students in the UNL School of Biological Sciences doctoral program are selected as T32 trainees, and funding from the T32 was originally envisioned to support students during Years 3-4 of a trainee's five-year PhD program. T32 Trainees (also called "Fellows") receive stipends and are matched with a mentor for their time in the program. In addition to particular coursework and research experiences in mentor laboratories, the T32 supports Fellows' "training in bioinformatics; instruction in research ethics and grantsmanship; guidance regarding career paths beyond academia, including access to industry and international internships; teaching experience; and participate in an annual symposium." The T32 program is overseen by the director of the NCV, Dr. Charles Wood. The program is expected to support a projected 12 trainees in total across the five-year funding period.
At the request of Dr. Charles Wood, the Social and Behavioral Sciences Research Consortium (SBSRC) Methodology and Evaluation Research Core (MERC) Facility was contracted to assess the environment provided by the T32 Program for Fellows. The formative annual evaluation includes the Fellows’ expectations and adjustment to the program, their experience with their mentor, their experience with others at the NCV, and their overall satisfaction with the program.