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New GSBS dean asks students to give back

Student Achievement Awards ceremony recognizes excellence among scientists

By Megan Bard

UMass Medical School Communications

June 01, 2018
  • Chancellor Michael F. Collins and Nomeda Girnius
  • Dean Mary Ellen Lane and Loretah Chibaya
  • Dean Lane with (from left) Aurian Garcia-Gonzalez, Raziel Rojas-Rodriguez and Daniel Hidalgo
  • Dean Lane, Julia Alterman and Ameer Elaimy
  • Dean Lane, Mehmet Fatih Bolukbasi and Reka Agnes Haraszti
  • Dean Lane and Jill Moore
  • The newly named Li Weibo Scholars are, from left, Siyuan Dai, Xue Shirley Li, Fei Wang, Tong Wu and Ye Oscar Duan.

At the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences annual Student Achievement Awards ceremony, Dean Mary Ellen Lane challenged the audience to think about their role as scientists outside academia and consider their obligation to give back to their communities.

“Perhaps your greatest contribution to sustaining science will be to show people, by the way you live your life and the way you give back to your community, what a scientist is and what a PhD is for,” Dean Lane told a standing-room-only crowd on Thursday, May 31, in the Cube of the Albert Sherman Center.

“At a time when there is so much questioning and cynicism around the value of higher education,” Lane said, scientists who have earned their PhDs have honored their commitment to themselves and those who supported them.

“Remember that each and every one of you, like probably all biomedical scientists, have had your education financed by someone else. More likely than not, that gift was an investment by the public, on faith that as a result of your education, you will contribute to the expansion of public good. So I ask you to think about what obligations we have to give back,” she said.

She encouraged them to find ways to be part of their community and to use their research training and intellect to “fulfill your civic responsibility in everyday life.”

Dozens, including Chancellor Michael F. Collins and Provost Terence R. Flotte, gathered to listen as Lane gave her first address as dean and celebrate the success, accomplishments and contributions of the 26 scientists, including current students and alumni, who were recognized for academic achievement, mentoring, service and scholarship. The audience also welcomed Lane as their new dean.

Provost Flotte lauded Lane’s accomplishments at UMMS. She was chosen as the new GSBS dean in April. She previously served as an associate professor of neurobiology, associate dean for curriculum and academic affairs and senior director of administration for the GSBS. Flotte credited Lane with creating the Office of Academic Affairs within the GSBS and leading the team that created the groundbreaking new first-year curriculum in the basic biomedical sciences program.

The award recipients, including some who will earn degrees on Sunday, June 3, at UMass Medical School’s 45th Commencement, include:

Chancellor’s Award

Nomeda Girnius
The cJUN NH-2 terminal Kinase Pathway in Mammary Gland Biology and Carcinogenesis
Roger J. Davis, PhD, mentor

Outstanding Mentoring Award

Loretah Chibaya, Mentoring in a Classroom and Research Setting
Hong Zhang, PhD, mentor

Recognition of Student Community Service

Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS)
Aurian Garcia-Gonzalez
Marian Walhout, PhD, mentor

Daniel Hidalgo
Merav Socolovsky, MD, PhD, mentor

Raziel Rojas-Rodriguez
Silvia Corvera, MD, mentor

Acknowledgement of Travel Awards

GSBC Career Development Awards

Loretah Chibaya
Hong Zhang, PhD, mentor

Weiwei Dai
Heinrich Gottlinger, MD, PhD, mentor

Jason Yang
Samuel Behar, MD, PhD, mentor

Riccio Travel Awards

Elizabeth Allen
Eric Baehrecke, PhD, mentor

Xinyang (David) Bing
Oliver Rando, MD, PhD, mentor

Noah Cohen
C. Robert Matthews, PhD, mentor

Xin (Daniel) Gao
Erik Sontheimer, PhD, mentor

Wen-Yu Hsiao
David Guertin, PhD, mentor

Kyusik Kim
Jeremy Luban, MD, mentor

Anubhab Nandy
Neal Silverman, PhD, mentor

James Strassner
John Harris, MD, PhD, mentor

Li Weibo Scholars

Siyuan Dai
Craig Mello, PhD, mentor

Ye (Oscar) Duan
Victor R. Ambros, PhD, mentor

Xue (Shirley) Li
Elinor Karlsson, PhD, mentor

Fei Wang
Yang Xiang, PhD, mentor

Tong Wu
Thomas G. Fazzio, PhD, mentor

Dean’s Award for Outstanding Mid-thesis Research

Julia Alterman
Di-Valent siRNAs:  New Chemical Scaffold for Modulation of Gene Expression in CNS
Anastasia Khvorova, PhD, mentor

Ameer Elaimy
Regulation of Breast Cancer Stem Cells by VEGF/Neuropilin Signaling
Arthur Mercurio, PhD, mentor

Dean’s Award for Outstanding Thesis Research

Mehmet Fatih Bolukbasi
Development of Chimeric Cas9 Nucleases for Accurate and Flexible Genome Editing
Scot Wolfe, PhD, mentor

Reka Agnes Haraszti, MD
Engineered Exosomes for Delivery of Therapeutic siRNAs to Neurons
Anastasia Khvorova, PhD, mentor

Recognition of the Class Speaker

Jill Moore
Zhiping Weng, PhD, mentor