Marking academic year end, GSBS celebrates student achievements

By Megan Bard

UMass Medical School Communications

June 03, 2016
  • GSBS student Emma Watson receives the Chancellor’s Award from Chancellor Michael F. Collins.
  • From left, Noah Silverstein and Jiayi Fan accept Curriculum Achievement Awards from Associate Dean Mary Ellen Lane.
  • Sumeet Nayak accepts the Outstanding Mentoring Award from Dean Carruthers.
  • Livio Dukaj is given the Outstanding Community Service Award from Dean Carruthers.
  • Dean Carruthers recognizes Alison Philbrook and Arvin Iracheta-Vellve with Dean’s Awards for Outstanding Mid-Thesis Research.
  • Margaret Heider is given the Dean’s Award for Outstanding Thesis Research from Dean Carruthers.
  • From left, Zahra Khazal, Michelle Heeney, Jenna Libera, Cara Weismann, Evelyn Erickson and Sage Foley.

Citing the profound, insightful, scientific and, in some cases, jovial words of others, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences Dean Anthony Carruthers, PhD, reminded the crowd assembled in the Albert Sherman Center Cube on Thursday, June 2, to occasionally revisit the fertile grounds of the scientific giants who preceded them.

“Their legacy is the scientific foundation that shapes all we do,” said Dean Carruthers, professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology, during the GSBS Celebration of Student Achievement.

“They provided insight into humanity’s unslakable thirst for knowledge and its attendant dangers. Their advice addresses the scientific method, its practitioners, its detractors, its exploitation and its ability to lift our spirits by recognizing the absurd,” he said.

Carruthers shared quotes from the likes of Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking, Richard Clarke Cabot, Thomas Huxley, Louis Pasteur and Max Planck. For levity, Carruthers also cited Robin Williams, Yogi Berra and Evan Esar for insight into human nature and the business of science.

In the end, though, Carruthers told the students and staff assembled that “creativity and understanding forged at the anvil of the scientific method by hard work, determination and integrity, a mind open to the unexpected and the ability to laugh at and learn from one’s errors—these characteristics and tools will help you deal with each challenge you face.”

Sixteen scientists, including some who will graduate on Sunday, June 5, at UMass Medical School’s 43rd Commencement, were recognized for academic achievement, mentoring, service and scholarship. They include:

Chancellor’s Award
Emma Watson
Diet-Responsive Gene Networks Rewire Metabolism in the Nematode Caenorhabditis elegans to Provide Robustness Against Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Marian Walhout, PhD, mentor

Curriculum Achievement Award
Jiayi Fan, Basic and Biomedical Sciences
Noah Silverstein, MD, PhD Program
Eric Romo, Clinical & Population Health Research

Outstanding Mentoring Award
Sumeet Nayak, Mentoring in a Research Setting
Sharon Cantor, PhD, mentor

Recognition of Student Community Service
Livio Dukaj
Nicholas Rhind, PhD, mentor

Dean’s Award for Most Insightful Mid-thesis Research
Arvin Iracheta-Vellve
The Roles of the Inflammasome and IRF3-Mediated Signaling in Alcohol Liver Damage
Gyongyi Szabo, MD, PhD, mentor

Alison Philbrook
Molecular Mechanisms of Synaptic Development and Remodeling
Michael Francis, PhD, mentor

Dean’s Award for Most Outstanding Thesis Research
Margaret Heider
Investigating the Architecture and Vesicle Tethering Function of the Yeast Exocyst Complex
Mary Munson, PhD, mentor

Bryan LaJoie
Computational Approaches for the Analysis of Chromosome Conformation Capture Data and Their Application to Study Long-Range Gene Regulation
Job Dekker, PhD, mentor

Recognition of Class Speaker
Aditya Venkatesh
Activation of mTORC1 Improves Cone Cell Metabolism and Extends Vision in Retinitis Pigmentosa Mice
Claudio Punzo, PhD, mentor

Recognition of Travel Awards
GSBS Student Travel Awards
Navonil Banergee
Michael Francis, PhD, mentor

Natasha Qaisar
Jennifer Wang, PhD, mentor

Riccio GSBS Student Travel Awards
Srinjoy Chakraborti
Sanjay Ram, MD, mentor

Yonca Karadeniz
Marc Freeman, PhD, mentor

William Monis
Gregory Pazour, PhD, mentor

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