In 2010, when then graduate student Vanessa Scanlon (then Piccuillo) was serving as UConn Health Graduate Student Organization (GSO) Vice President, she was helping organize the schedule and keep presenters on time at the Biomedical Science program’s annual Graduate Student Research Day (GSRD). Thirteen years later, Biomedical Science Ph.D. degree in hand and now Assistant Professor in the Center for Regenerative Medicine and Skeletal Development at UConn Health, Dr. Scanlon found herself on the other side of the podium, as the invited keynote speaker for the 40th anniversary of the event.
“I was so honored to be asked to deliver the keynote lecture,” Dr. Scanlon said. “It was almost an out of body experience (giving the presentation as a junior faculty member) because it really seems like just yesterday that I was on the GSO and planning GSRD!”
“This is such a special event because it really gives students an opportunity to showcase all they’ve accomplished towards their projects over the year,” Scanlon continued, “and provides a venue for us to celebrate their continued personal and professional growth.”
The Biomedical Science Graduate Student Research Day, held this year on Wednesday, August 23rd, is an annual celebration of the research accomplishments of the students in the Biomedical Science PhD program at UConn Health. It includes a poster session and oral presentations from students across all seven Areas of Concentration (AoCs) within the Biomedical Science PhD, as well as the keynote address, and a scientific talk by the previous year’s Lepow Award winner, given this year by recent graduate Dr. Pengyu Zong.
“GSRD is a day not only for students, but about students,” incoming 2023-24 GSO President Deepa Anjan Kumar noted. “It felt wonderful to hear from fellow students about all the progress they have made in their research; it is also one of the few instances when we get to talk to students from other departments about their research.”
Additionally, it’s a great platform, Scanlon says, “for students to practice their presentation skills (a critical skill in any PhD’s toolbelt) in a safe and constructive environment.”
After the presentations and talks, the program announced their annual awards recipients, including the Osborn Award For Excellence in Biomedical Science Graduate Teaching, which celebrates faculty members who focus on excellence in teaching and mentoring graduate students. Named for Dr. May J. Osborn, a former Emeritus at UConn Health, this award is nominated and voted on by current Biomedical Science students. This year’s voting resulted in a tie, with co-recipients Dr. Michael Guertin (Systems Biology AoC) and Dr. Kepeng Wang (Immunology AoC).
“It was a great honor for me to receive the nomination and actually win the Osborn Award!” Dr. Wang said. “I will continue working hard with our students to pursue excellence in teaching.”
Dr. Guertin agreed: “It was an honor just to be nominated, so I was thrilled to receive the accolade. I am glad that my teaching is appreciated, and that UConn Health genuinely values graduate student teaching—this is not always the case, especially at medical schools.”
See the full list of this year’s award recipients below:
Edward G. Henderson Memorial Prize for Outstanding Ph.D. Thesis in Biomedical Science: Dr. Qinfang Liu, Neuroscience AoC, PI: Dr. Yulan Xiong
Lepow Award for Outstanding Biomedical Science PhD Student Entering the 4th Year of Study: Patricia Hare, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry AoC, PI: Dr. Wendy W.K. Mok
Lawrence G. Raisz Award for Excellent in Musculoskeletal Research: Prachi Thakore, Skeletal Biology and Regeneration AoC, PI: Dr. Anne Delany
Biomedical Science Service Award in Leadership: Rachel Gilmore, Genetics and Developmental Biology AoC, PI: Dr. Justin Cotney
Biomedical Science Service Award in Mentorship: Angela Power, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry AoC, PI: Dr. Wendy W.K. Mok
GSRD Oral Presentation Award: Skylar Wright, Combined MD/PhD student, Immunology AoC, PI: Dr. Vijay Rathinam
Poster Presentation Awards:
1st Place: Kristina Delgado, Immunology AoC, PI: Dr. Justin Radolf and Dr. Kelly Hawley
2nd Place: Corie Owen, Cell Biology AoC, PI: Dr. Laurinda Jaffe
3rd Place: Rachel Gilmore, Genetics and Developmental Biology AoC, PI: Dr. Justin Cotney
Osborn Award for Excellence in Biomedical Science Graduate Training (tie): Dr. Michael Guertin, Systems Biology AoC and Dr. Kepeng Wang, Immunology AoC