By Dirk Hoffman
Published August 31, 2023
The Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences welcomed incoming students to its building on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus in downtown Buffalo Aug. 25 as part of Undergraduate Academics Day.
The program was part of the University at Buffalo’s Welcome Weekend and marked the first time Jacobs School undergraduate students attended an orientation session at the Jacobs School building. In previous years, the event was held on UB’s South Campus.
The change in venue was purposeful, according to Kelli C. Hickey, director of enrollment management and biomedical undergraduate education.
“We really wanted the students to be introduced to the Jacobs community and have them feel a part of it,” she said. “It is a terrific opportunity to introduce them to the building and see the labs and classrooms. Really, the biggest part is talking to current students, learning some tips and tricks on what they should be doing early on in the academic year.”
The new undergraduate students were able to visit tables in the Jacobs School atrium that covered such topics as “Meet Your Major,” “Student Clubs,” “Tips From Current Students” and “Academic Advising.”
Activities included a goal-making session and a “selfie station” featuring a blue-and-white backdrop full of Jacobs School logos. Students were also able to take tours of the school’s gross anatomy lab and neuroscience research lab.
“The directors of each of the undergraduate programs were on hand to answer any questions,” Hickey said. “This is the first time we brought so many undergraduates to this campus, so it was a huge endeavor, but we felt it was really important to do.”
Hickey said there are about 350 first-year undergraduate students and 50 transfer students enrolled for the new school year and that about 180 students participated in Undergraduate Academics Day.
She also noted that many medical schools do not feature an undergraduate program.
“We are really unique and lucky to have the resources that we do and that we have an administration that sees the value in undergraduate education and the path that leads to some really good scientists and doctors,” she said.
Jacob Edwin Nemitz was one of the current undergraduate students available to talk to the new students and touted the fact undergraduates can get involved in research at the Jacobs School.
“One of my greatest experiences at the Jacobs School was in the spring of my junior year I began research with Dr. Amy Jacobs in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, so I have been working with COVID-19 and HIV the last couple of semesters,” he said.
“Just getting that experience and learning outside the classroom setting on the cutting edge of innovation has just been really exciting and I would absolutely recommend it to anyone who has any interest in going on to a graduate or preprofessional school,” Nemitz said. “It is a great way to learn a lot more than you would in a classroom.”
“I also believe that advising is a huge bonus for Jacobs School undergrads. I have had wonderful experiences with my academic adviser. I was leaning on them when I was doing research and it was a wonderful thing,” he added.
The Jacobs School undergraduate program offers the following majors:
It also offers combined programs in neuroscience BS/MS, pharmacology BS/MS and biomedical sciences BS/PharmD and has minors in neuroscience, and pharmacology and toxicology.
During a welcome presentation, the students heard from John C. Panepinto, PhD, senior associate dean for biomedical education, who had some words of advice for them.
“If you look around this room, everybody is here from a different path. We all come here from a different place and I can tell you as a scientist, science works the best when people from different paths are looking at problems and trying to solve them,” he said.
Panepinto also encouraged the students to team up when approaching their studies.
“You are going to have opportunities to engage with one another over the next couple of years. Lean on each other. Do not study by yourself, study with other people,” he said. “Get a group of friends together, order some pizza, and study together. You are only going to know how well you know the material when you are studying with other people that can test you.”
He also reminded them of the numerous resources available to them at UB.
“If you find yourself in trouble, do not wait until the exam, do not wait until the middle of the semester to try and fix the problem,” he said. “Reach out to our staff. We have tutors, we have peer mentors, we will do everything we can to get you the resources you need to be successful.”
“We want you to succeed and we are willing to do the work to help you get there. Of course, you also need to do the work, too.”
Allison Brashear, MD, MBA, UB’s vice president for health sciences and dean of the Jacobs School, also welcomed the new undergraduates.
“We are here because we want to improve the health of Western New York,” she said. “Buffalo is an amazing city and a very comfortable place to be and we want you to love Buffalo as much as we love Buffalo.”