In his last ceremonial event as dean of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Anthony Carruthers, PhD, reflected upon his aspirations for the 52 graduate students who are entering the “proving ground for doctoral study” at the GSBS Recognition Ceremony on Thursday, Sept. 14.
“You and your peers represent the future of science for all humanity,” said Dean Carruthers, professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology and microbiology & physiological systems, addressing the students who recently passed their Qualifying Examination. Carruthers, who has been at UMMS since 1982, is stepping down from his post as dean early next year.
The dean encouraged students to be the defense against “post-modernism assertions that interpretation is everything,” likening it to the antithesis of science. He defined fake new as “news that our unconscious biases trick us into wanting to believe when we really should know better” or information “created to exploit those who are unable to distinguish fantasy from reality.”
“The result is a growing segment of society that seems either unable or unwilling to acknowledge the evidence supporting phenomena such as global warming, the preventative power of immunization, or the positive correlation between gun availability and gun-related violence,” he said.
Carruthers told them to continue as they began: champion the scientific method.
“Insist upon the collection and review of empirical evidence. Wherever and whenever you encounter fake news, counter untruths with evidence. When evidence is absent, create a methodology to research the problem. Sometimes the evidence may take us to places we would prefer not to be, but intellectual integrity demands that we are consistent in all we do,” he said.
As students continue their studies and work toward their PhDs, Carruthers asked them to remember his advice from when they began their studies: “This is a journey of scientific discovery and growing self-awareness. Recognize when you have accomplished something special or when your approach was flawed—try to understand the hows and whys of your successes and failures and then learn from each.”
“Eventually you will advance to completion and publication as a battle-worn vet experienced in the cut and thrust of research,” he said.
After the dean’s address, Associate Dean Mary Ellen Lane, PhD, associate professor of neurobiology, recognized the students who were admitted to doctoral candidacy in the academic year 2016-17.
Those students are:
Kristin Abramo (Job Dekker Lab)
Tatenda Kadungure (Hong Zhang Lab)