Retreat to Advance: A Lifelong Learning Opportunity for Research Student Development


While team-building activities are commonplace in professional environments, the team dynamic of academic research groups is often overlooked. Herein, we outline a setting that aims to develop a collegial and cohesive culture through a research group-based retreat. The Genzer research group at North Carolina State University self-organizes and hosts two group retreats each year where students participate in academic and professional development activities in addition to social events.  In this document we share details of our group retreats and hope that others will benefit from learning about our activities.

Author Biographies

Amber M Hubbard, North Carolina State University

Amber M. Hubbard is a National Research Council (NRC) Research Associate at the Air Force Research Laboratory.  She received her BS in Chemical Engineering from Auburn University (2014) and her PhD in Chemical Engineering from North Carolina State University (2019).  She was a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellow during her tenure at NC State University and was an NSF Graduate Research Opportunities Worldwide Fellow at Hokkaido University (Sapporo, Japan) in 2017. Dr. Hubbard’s research interest lies in stimuli-responsive polymers, and she is passionate about mentoring younger students, scientific communication, and international collaborations.

Jan Genzer, North Carolina State University

Jan Genzer holds a Dipl-Ing (University of Chemistry & Technology, Prague, Czech Republic, 1989) in Chemical and Materials Engineering and a PhD (University of Pennsylvania, 1996) in Materials Science & Engineering.  After two post-doctoral stints at Cornell University (1996-1997) and at the University of California at Santa Barbara (1997-1998), Genzer joined the faculty of Chemical Engineering at NC State University as an Assistant Professor in fall 1998.  He is the S. Frank and Doris Culberson Distinguished Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at NC State University.  Genzer and his group study the behavior of polymers at surfaces, interfaces, and in confined geometries.


Lisa G. Bullard, North Carolina State University

Lisa G. Bullard is an Alumni Distinguished Undergraduate Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at North Carolina State University.  She received her BS in Chemical Engineering from NC State and her PhD in Chemical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University.  She served in engineering and management positions within Eastman Chemical Company from 1991-2000.  A faculty member at NC State since 2000, Dr. Bullard’s research interests lie in the areas of teaching and advising effectiveness, academic integrity, and instruction in material and energy balances and capstone process design. 

Lifelong Learning