The Integrated Life Sciences (ILS) Program at the University of Maryland seeks to engage and inspire honors students interested in all aspects of biological research and biomedicine and prepare students for future successes in the most challenging programs in graduate, medical, dental, and other professional schools.
Several recent national initiatives, e.g. BIO 2010, Scientific Foundations for Future Physicians, and Vision and Change, have called for the transformation of undergraduate education in the life sciences. The College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences has partnered with the Honors College to create the ILS program, which offers nationally recognized innovations in the multidisciplinary training of life science and pre-medical students.
WHO ARE ILS STUDENTS?
ILS students come from a wide range of backgrounds but are united by their common academic interests in the life sciences, their commitments to personal excellence, and their desires for productive and worthwhile careers in research, medicine, and education.
The ils community
The ILS living-learning program is designed to facilitate the development of meaningful academic, professional, and personal relationships among fellow students as well as with faculty, staff, and mentors. ILS students live together in LaPlata Hall where the ILS faculty and staff have their offices. Technology classrooms and study rooms are conveniently located in LaPlata Hall and other adjacent residential halls in the Ellicott Community. The Eppley Recreation Center, LaPlata Beach, North Campus Diner, and Football Stadium are all located just outside LaPlata's doors. Given the importance of the residential experience in living-learning programs, all ILS students are required to live in the ILS residence hall in their first year in the program.
ILS students play an active role in ILS community programming. They are involved in planning, organizing, and implementing community events, peer mentoring and service for the ILS community, as well for the Honors College.
During the two-year program ILS students enroll in a sequence of accelerated courses: integrated organismal biology, genetics and genomics, a choice between biomathematics and biological modeling or cell biology, and a capstone scholarship-in-practice experience. First-year students also take an introductory HLSC100 course in the fall of their first year to assist the transition to the university environment and the unique components of the ILS program.
This sequence integrates fundamental principles across all sciences and encourages students to apply their knowledge toward complex real-world problems in the life sciences and biomedicine. The ILS coursework also complements the requirements for life sciences majors, and is effectively embedded into the required curriculum. Thus, ILS students can major in any academic discipline, as long as they are prepared for rigorous ILS curriculum.
ILS students are expected to have meaningful experiences in basic biological, biomedical, or clinical research on the UMD campus or at federal research agencies and biomedical institutes. Such options near campus our students have worked with include: the National Institutes of Health, the United States Food and Drug Administration, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the Smithsonian Institution. Students are aided in their pursuit of a meaningful research internship by the ILS Associate Director, who guides students through their search for a research mentor and appropriate project that fulfills at 240-hour requirement. Research topics vary widely, are initiated by the student's own interests, and incorporated into the student's unique schedule. Many students complete their research requirement the summer after their first or sophomore year, or throughout the academic year in an on-campus laboratory. These opportunities are essential for training future biological researchers, scholars, and clinical physicians.
One of the objectives of the ILS program is to create a community that fosters collaboration and inspires action in the world. This objective is best achieved by encouraging students to participate in service-learning opportunities that promote the development of skills, values, and motivation to make a difference. All first-year students complete a 12-hour service requirement with a team of ILSers and a community partner of their choosing. Through active participation in service, critical reflections on the experience, and class presentations, students apply their classroom training to the world around them.
ILS has worked with some of our community partners for several years across a variety of topics that include programmatic and institutional values such as STEM education, sustainability, and supporting underserved populations. Such long-standing partners include TerpFarm, Adventures in Science, and CHesapeake Education, Arts, and Research Society (CHEARS). Through their commitment to service, ILS students have been inspired to create their own service organizations, such as Students for the Advancement of Women in Science (SAWS), which was created by ILSer Kelsey Anderson, Class of 2019.
Green Office Program
In an effort to reduce our environmental footprint and promote a sustainable future, the LaPlata Honors College Office is participating in the Green Office Program sponsored by the University of Maryland's Office of Sustainability. The purpose of the green office program is to engage staff, faculty, and students in a dynamic initiative that promotes best environmental practices at the University of Maryland. The program seeks to motivate environmentally friendly behaviors such a mindful copying and printing, recycling, and waste reduction.