First in Future: GES Center Co-Director Jennifer Kuzma

Summary:  What should we be learning – or having our kids learn – to get them ready for the future? Should we be preparing students with specific skills that may be extinct in the future or general skills that will enable them to adjust to a changing market? Count Jennifer Kuzma, co-director for the Genetic Engineering and Society Center (GES Center) at NC State University, among the people who would advise you to keep an open mind about what your career is going to look like. As we sit down with Jennifer this week, we have the chance to think about mosquitoes, killer genes, the ethics of Ancestry.com, new uses of the tobacco leaf, do-it-yourself biology, and how grateful North Carolina should be to have so many people from out of state moving here.

Excerpt: “… biotechnology has a role to play in economic development in rural communities….with maybe some great sustainable crops that could benefit the environment and feed into biofuels.”

Book recommendations:  Rise of The Robots by Martin Ford (Ford was a speaker at IEI’s 2016 Emerging Issues Forum, FutureWork!).  

What key issues should we be working on within the next couple of years to make North Carolina a better place? Preventing the decline of rural communities and focusing on bridging the rural-urban divide that is growing both politically, socially and economically.

What do we need to focus on to be ready for the next 20 years?  DIY biology, where people in community laboratories are starting to tinker around bacteria that can degrade pollutants and smell better or genetics and bring this to rural communities.

Next great North Carolinian to watch? “Thirteen to twenty-three year-olds are really a different breed…I see a greater social consciousness in them.”

Listen to the podcast: