37th Annual Graduate Student Research Day Carries On Virtually

2020 Biomedical Science Service Award for Mentorship winner Gabrielle Valles, seen here presenting a poster at last year's in person GSRD event.
Laura Doherty, a 6th year DMD/PhD student, was one of seven Area of Concentration oral presenters at the online 2020 GSRD. Doherty was awarded the Lawrence G. Raisz Award for Excellence in Musculoskeletal Research for her presentation.

Graduate Student Research Day (GSRD) is an annual celebration of the research accomplishments of students in The Graduate School programs at UConn Health, with a primary focus on the Biomedical Science Ph.D. program. Like so many activities in 2020, the decades old gathering traditionally held in June of each year, could not take place in person due to the global pandemic.

While it would not be possible to duplicate the day-long event in an online format, it was vital to the program to continue on in some capacity.

“In times like these, it’s important to showcase student success despite unprecedented challenges,” said Blake Torrance, incoming president of Graduate Student Organization (GSO) that normally co-sponsor the in person event with the Graduate Programs Committee. “GSRD is a way to appreciate the resiliency and dedication of our grad students that, even in the midst of a pandemic, are still working towards our goals and performing groundbreaking research.”

Cell Biology Area of Concentration (AoC) presenter and winner of this year’s Oral Presentation award Sarah-Anne Nicholas, added that this year’s GSRD “provided students and faculty alike a sense of normalcy. By providing the opportunity to share our work with a larger audience, the event fosters a sense of community that makes UConn Health such a great place to learn and grow as scientists.”

Laura Doherty, Raisz Award winner and DMD/PhD student currently working in the Graduate School phase of her degree, agrees: “GSRD is one of the best opportunities for graduate students to showcase our work in a supportive environment, and to receive valuable constructive feedback from faculty. This day strengthens the graduate student community at UConn Health and provides an important venue for engaging with other students and their research.”

2019-20 Lepow Award recipient James Nevin presented his talk at the 2020 GSRD.

The 37th annual “mini” iteration of GSRD, held Friday afternoon, August 28, served as a capstone to the incoming student orientation week and consisted of oral presentations by representatives of each of the Biomedical Science Ph.D. program’s seven areas of concentration, as well a scientific talk by last year’s Lepow Award winner, James Nevin.

“I look forward each year to hearing about the exciting work of graduate students in all of our AoCs, and I am grateful for the work put in by the organizers that enabled GSRD to go forward virtually under these unusual circumstances,” Nevin said.

Over 80 attendees logged in to view the virtual live event. Dr. Barbara Kream, associate dean of The Graduate School at UConn Health, noted that although so many academic gatherings have had to move online because of the coronavirus “attendance at virtual events in The Graduate School has been spectacular.”

Incoming Graduate Student Organization president Blake Torrance announced the winner of the Osborn Award for Excellence in Biomedical Science Graduate Teaching.

Graduate Student Research Day Annual Awards
GSRD included an online award ceremony announcing its annual award recipients:

  • Osborn Award for Excellence in Biomedical Science Graduate Training – Dr. Stephen Crocker, Neuroscience
  • Edward G. Henderson Memorial Prize for Outstanding Ph.D. Thesis in Biomedical Science – Dr. Alessandro Rizzo, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry AoC, PI: Dr. Dmitry Korzhnev
  • Lepow Award for Outstanding Biomedical Science PhD Student Entering the 4th Year of Study – Marwa Elamin, Neuroscience AoC, PI: Dr. Eric Levine
  • Lawrence G. Raisz Award for Excellence in Musculoskeletal Research – Laura Doherty, DMD/PhD student, Skeletal Biology & Regeneration AoC, PI: Dr. Archana Sanjay
  • Biomedical Science Service Award in Leadership – Peter Larson, MD/PhD student, Genetics & Developmental Biology AoC; PI: Dr. Julia Oh, The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine
  • Biomedical Science Service Award in Mentorship – Gabrielle Valles, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry AoC, PI: Dr. Irina Bezsonova
  • GSRD Oral Presentation Award – Sarah-Anne Nicholas, Cell Biology AoC, PI: Dr. Patrick Murphy