Shannon Sirk named Associate Director for the Illinois Microbial Systems Initiative


Bioengineering Professor Shannon Sirk has been named the Associate Director for the Illinois Microbial Systems Initiative (MSI). Sirk has been involved with MSI since its launch in late 2018 and will continue to support MSI’s growth and development. As a part of this leadership role, one area that she will be working on is facilitating resources to mentor and train early-career scientists and junior faculty. 

The overall goal of the MSI is to build a robust international profile in microbial sciences and engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Microbial systems research has implications for the health, agriculture, and energy sectors, among others. The MSI has rapidly built momentum and enthusiasm across campus since its inception. 

The MSI Mentoring Program is kicking off with a brown bag webinar series titled “Getting Started at Illinois" to provide support to new and early-career faculty to help ease their transition to Illinois and get them off to a good start on the tenure track and beyond. Sirk said, "Cari Vanderpool and others worked very hard to bring this cohort of talented and enthusiastic microbial scientists into our community, so we want to do everything we can to ensure their early and continued success." Vanderpool is a professor of microbiology and the director of the MSI. 

As a junior faculty herself, Sirk knows first-hand the points of confusion and bottlenecks during the startup years and wants to share her knowledge with incoming faculty. Sirk said, "I’m excited to contribute to the Getting Started at Illinois series, since our goal is to provide targeted support and guidance for new faculty, especially in those first few months when everything is foreign and hectic."

A panel of established investigators will lead each webinar. The first event, scheduled for Wednesday, September 9th, will be an introduction to the history of the university and research resources. Click here to learn more about the MSI and how to get involved.