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GSBS awards ceremony recognizes student achievements

Dean Mary Ellen Lane: Love, meaningful work and hope are keys to good life

By Megan Bard

UMass Medical School Communications

May 31, 2019
  • Dean Mary Ellen Lane and Pranitha Vangala
  • Kristyn Norris, Dean Lane and Sumeet Nayak
  • Dean Lane and Georgia Gunner
  • Maximiliaan Huisman, Dean Lane and Harish Palleti Janardhan
  • Dean Lane and Jose Mercado-Matos
  • Julia Alterman (center) with mentor Anastasia Khvorova, Chancellor Collins and her parents

At the annual student achievement awards ceremony for the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Dean Mary Ellen Lane encouraged students to seek happiness through love, meaningful work and hope for the future, following in the steps of Joseph Addison, an English playwright and politician.

“Seeking to perfectly balance work and life leads to unhappiness because it is simply impossible to achieve, and it is not always appropriate,” Dean Lane told the audience on Thursday, May 30, in the Cube at the Albert Sherman Center.

The three-pillared approach creates a more stable base and one that allows for fluctuating priorities, such as working toward an important career goal, caring for a newborn or nurturing your own self, she said. The approach also allows both the optimist and the pessimist to embrace hope. Hope requires the optimist to “acknowledge the possibility, even the probability of failure and hardship, and actively work to create the best possible outcome.” For the pessimist, hope encourages the understanding that the education and life experiences have obligated them to be agents of their own happiness and success.

With hope, Lane challenged her audience to “think about what you can create in your life, in your work, and in your world to live happily, and well, and successfully no matter what life throws at you.”

Prior to the dean’s address, Terence R. Flotte, MD, the Celia and Isaac Haidak Professor in Medical Education, executive deputy chancellor, provost and dean of the School of Medicine, told the graduates that in the current political and social environment their role as scientists is of the utmost importance to the health of our society.

“We know that you will have success in your future careers in academia, industry or government, but we also trust that you will keep in mind that social responsibility and make us proud,” Dean Flotte said.

Chancellor Michael F. Collins awarded the 2019 Chancellor’s Award to Julie Alterman. She was praised for outstanding research that provided an important step toward realizing the promise that small interfering RNAs hold for treating genetically defined diseases and which has the potential to transform the field of RNAi therapeutics for neurodegenerative disease.

Chancellor Collins also congratulated all of the 16 scientists, including some of whom will earn degrees at UMass Medical School’s 46th Commencement on Sunday, June 2, who were recognized for academic achievement, mentoring, service and scholarship.

The award winners include:

Chancellor’s Award
Julia Alterman
A CNS-Active siRNA Chemical
Scaffold for the Treatment of
Neurodegenerative Diseases
Anastasia Khvorova, PhD, mentor

Outstanding Mentor Awards
Michael Kiritsy
Christopher Sassetti, PhD, mentor

Pranitha Vangala
Manuel Garber, PhD, mentor

Student Community Service Awards
Sumeet Nayak
Sharon Cantor, PhD, mentor

Kristyn Norris
Mary Munson, PhD, mentor

Dean’s Award for Outstanding Mid-thesis Research
Georgia Gunner
Elucidating roles for microglia in sensory experience-dependent synaptic remodeling
Dorothy Schafer, PhD, mentor

Dean’s Award for Outstanding Thesis
Maximiliaan Huisman
Vision Beyond Optics: Standardization, Evaluation and Innovation for Fluorescence Microscopy in Life Sciences
David Grunwald, PhD, mentor

Harish Palleti Janardhan
Histone Deacetylase 3 (HDAC3) Regulates Lymphatic Vascular Development
Chinmay Trivedi, MD, PhD, mentor

Acknowledgment of Travel Awards
GSBS Career Development Awards
Hsi-Ju Chen
Tony Ip, PhD, mentor

Salome Funes
Daryl Bosco, PhD, mentor

Krishna Ghanta
Craig Mello, PhD, mentor

Maximiliaan Huisman
David Grunwald, PhD, mentor

Victoria Julian
Alexandra Byrne, PhD, mentor

Yen-Chen Lin
Daryl Bosco, PhD, mentor

Heather Loring
Paul Thompson, PhD, mentor

Ciearra Smith
David Weaver, PhD, mentor

Riccio Travel Award
Heather Loring
Paul Thompson, PhD, mentor

Recognition of Class Speaker
Jose Mercado-Matos
Leslie Shaw, PhD, mentor

Related story on UMassMedNow:
Link between bench to bedside is personal for GSBS class speaker Jose Mercado-Matos