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Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences recognizes 22 scientists

By Megan Bard

UMass Medical School Communications

June 02, 2017
  • Chancellor Michael Collins and Kasmir Ramo, recipient of the Chancellor’s Award
  • (From left,) Associate Dean Mary Ellen Lane with Curriculum Achievement Award recipients Grant Weaver, Yekaterina Makeyeva and Matthew Alcusky
  • Dean Anthony Carruthers and Krishna Ghanta, recipient of the Outstanding Mentor Award
  • Dean Carruthers and Jennifer Moon, recipient of the Award for Outstanding Community Service
  • Dean Carruthers stands with Hatem Elif Kamber Kaya and Yihang Li, recipients of Dean’s Award for Outstanding Thesis Research.
  • Dean Carruthers and Brian Quattrochi, GSBS class speaker for Commencement 2017
  • GSBS students enjoy the reception after the awards ceremony.
  • Members of the GSBS community gather in the Cube of the Albert Sherman Center.
  • GSBS students celebrate after the awards ceremony.

The students, faculty and staff of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences have accomplished in a few years what others might have considered impossible, said Dean Anthony Carruthers at the GSBS Celebration of Student Achievement on Thursday, June 1.

“Our story is one of students, staff, faculty and leadership driving to solve the most perplexing, important and exciting biomedical problems of the age,” Dean Carruthers told those assembled in the Albert Sherman Center Cube.

In the 35 years since the GSBS accepted its first cohort of seven students—compared to the current incoming class of 60—UMass Medical School has become one of the world’s great institutes, having graduated more than 185 students with master’s degrees and 750 with doctorates. Paraphrasing President John F. Kennedy, the dean said that the young biomedical school “chose to aim for the moon and do the other things not because they’re easy, but because they are hard.”

After asking what the world would be like without its past and present great scientists, Carruthers emphasized what he said were two important truths.

“The advancement of science cannot be left solely to chance or philanthropy,” he said. “A coordinated, public commitment to and ownership of research is necessary if we are to eradicate systemic ignorance, the true foundation of disease and suffering, from our fragile planet home.”

“Secondly, each of us is directly a beneficiary of the outstanding biomedical research undertaken at the great research institutions of the world.”

Carruthers said the ambition, determination, talent and commitment of faculty, staff, students and leadership enabled the university to achieve success rapidly with only limited state and philanthropic support. The university is among the ranks of the world’s most important biomedical research intuitions, with a faculty of more than 400 and an annual research portfolio of more than $280 million “with every indication, government allowing, of continued growth,” he said.

Without these characteristics, UMMS would be an aspirational dream and not a reality.

“Celebrate your accomplishments; be excited about your future paths; continue to aim for the moon; and keep an eye on the University of Massachusetts Medical School because the first 35 years of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences have been remarkable, but the next 35 years, with continued hard work, creativity and commitment, promise to be truly astonishing,” he said.

During the ceremony, 22 scientists, including some who will earn degrees on Sunday, June 4, at UMass Medical School’s 44th Commencement, were recognized for academic achievement, mentoring, service and scholarship. They include:

Chancellor’s Award:
Kasmir Ramo
Jun Kinases in Hematopoiesis and Vascular Development and Function
Roger Davis, PhD, Mentor

Curriculum Achievement Award:
Yekaterina Makeyeva—Basic and Biomedical Sciences
Zeynep Mirza—Basic and Biomedical Sciences
Grant Weaver—Basic and Biomedical Sciences
Nicholas Peterson—MD/PhD Program
Matthew Alcusky—Clinical & Population Health Program

Outstanding Mentoring Award:
Krishna Ghanta, Mentoring in a Research Setting
Craig Mello, PhD, Mentor

Recognition of Student Community Service
Monika Chitre
Patrick Emery, PhD, Mentor

Jennifer Moon
Jeanne Lawrence, PhD, Mentor

Recognition Travel Awards:
Riccio GSBS Travel Award:
Shiuli Agarwal
Katherine Fitzgerald, PhD, Mentor

Alireza Edraki
Erik Sontheimer, PhD, Mentor

Peter Lee
David Guertin, PhD, Mentor

Devyn Oliver
Claire Benard, PhD, and Michael Francis, PhD, Mentors

Rachel Stamateris
Laura Alonso, MD, Mentor

Arvind Venkatesan
Craig Ceol, PhD, Mentor

GSBC Student Travel Awards:
Ami Ashar-Patel
Melissa Moore, PhD, Mentor

Alireza Edraki
Erik Sontheimer, PhD, Mentor

Pallavi Lamba
Patrick Emery, PhD, Mentor

Jill Moore
Zhiping Weng, PhD, Mentor

Dean’s Award for Outstanding Mid-thesis Research
Janelle Hayes
Structure and Mechanism of an Exceptionally Powerful Molecular Motor
Brian Kelch, PhD, Mentor

Dean’s Award for Outstanding Thesis Research
Hatem Elif Kamber Kaya
Regulation of the Drosophila Initiator Caspase Dronc through Ubiquitylation
Andreas Bergmann, PhD, Mentor

Yihang Li
Mechanisms of Synaptic Development and Premature Aging in Drosophila
Vivian Budnik, PhD, Mentor

Recognition of Class Speaker
Brian Quattrochi
Brian Lewis, PhD, Mentor