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GSBS recognizes 57 students for achieving milestone in biomedical sciences graduate training

Honorees have passed the qualifying exam, marking progress from classroom to laboratory

  • Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences Dean Mary Ellen Lane welcomes the community to the GSBS Recognition Ceremony.
  • The event marks a milestone for second-year PhD students who have passed the qualifying exam.
  • Maggi Ahmed and classmates were given business cards and laser pointers at the event.
  • Dean Terence Flotte addresses the students.
  • GSBS students who passed the qualifying exam stand for a photo.
  • Mackenzie Flynn, left, recipient of the Zelda Haidak Memorial Scholarship, stands with Morgan Thompson, PhD, after the ceremony.

Fifty-seven Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences students celebrated a milestone achievement on their path to doctoral degrees at the annual GSBS Recognition Ceremony. The event honoring those who have successfully completed the qualifying exam, which marks the transition from classroom-based learning to candidacy for a doctoral degree, took place on Wednesday, Sept. 11, during Convocation week at UMass Medical School.

“Successful completion of the qualifying exam represents a significant and substantive scientific achievement that marks the true beginning of doctoral research,” said Mary Ellen Lane, PhD, dean of the GSBS, in her welcoming remarks. “You have earned the confidence of the academic community in your ability to execute original and impactful dissertation research.”

Those who pass the qualifying exam, taken in their second year of study, experience a range of feelings—relief at having the intensive preparation behind them, pride in the accomplishment and excitement at the prospect of concentrating on their chosen research topics in the coming years.

“Today is really meaningful because since I was young, I have dreamed of doing scientific research,” said Nien Chen Li, MPA, MA, a member of the Arlene Ash lab. “I feel grateful to have the opportunity and privilege to have hit this milestone, with a lot of help from faculty and mentors, to bring me to a new level in scientific research and to fulfill my dream.”

Dr. Lane named Mackenzie Flynn, a student in the lab of Jennifer Benanti, PhD, associate professor of molecular, cell & cancer biology, as the recipient of the Zelda Haidak Memorial Scholarship. Now in its second year, the Haidak scholarship is named in honor of Zelda S. Haidak, the wife of long-time faculty member Gerald L. Haidak, MD, to support female trainees working in the area of cell biology.

“It will be nice to focus on my research,” said Flynn, who is investigating how the cell cycle is controlled in response to stress. “I’m excited about having the time to think about the next steps to guide the project forward.”

Lane and Morgan Thompson, PhD, assistant dean of student affairs and enrollment for the GSBS, presented a congratulatory gift of laser pointers and newly printed business cards to each student in recognition of the milestone. The students are:

Maggi Ahmed, John Harris lab
Levi Ali, Cole Haynes lab
Shannon Bailey, Phillip Zamore lab
Ariel Beccia, Kate Lapane lab
Nicholas Bolden, Haley Melikian lab
Reyyan Bulut, Victor Ambros lab
Yuming Cao, Manuel Garber lab
Christine Carbone, Andrei Korostelev lab
Maira Castaneda Avila, Mara Epstein lab
Chun-Hao Chao, Thomas Fazzio lab
Zexiang Chen, Jonathan Watts
    and Erik Sontheimer labs
Eric Ding, David McManus lab
Mihir Doshi, Dohoon Kim lab
Kaili Fan, Zhiping Weng lab
Michael Feyder, Mary Munson lab
Mackenzie Flynn, Jennifer Benanti lab
Kevin Gao, Ann Rothstein
    and Kate Fitzgerald labs
Mingshi Gao, Zhiping Weng lab
Dominic Gessler, Guangping Gao lab
Gabrielle Giese, Marian Walhout lab
Dilara Halim, Fen-Biao Gao lab
Maureen Hester, Stuart Levitz
    and Charles Specht labs
Megan Honeywell, Michael Lee lab
Havisha Honwad, Javier Irazoqui lab
Jack Huey, Zhiping Weng lab
Eleni Jaecklein, Christopher Sassetti lab
Hao-Ching Jiang, Paul Greer lab
Erica Kwiatkowski, Patrick Emery lab


Alexandra Lee, Roger Davis lab
Nien Chen Li, Arlene Ash lab
Xuhang Li, Marian Walhout lab
Thuyvan Luu, Paul Greer lab
Joseph Magrino, Brian Kelch lab
Kotchaphorn Mangkalaphiban,
    Allan Jacobson lab
Grace Masters, Nancy Byatt lab
Shivani Nanda, Marian Walhout lab
Naema Nayyar, Michael Brehm lab
Kevin O'Connor, Michelle Kelliher lab
Karthik Ramesh, Lawrence Stern lab
Fiona Raso, Andrea Reboldi lab
Thomas Reimonn, Zhiping Weng lab
Eric Romo, Peter Friedmann lab
Brittany Rosener, Amir Mitchell lab
Hannah Schwartz, Michael Lee lab
Jarin Snyder, Laura Alonso lab
Javier Solivan-Rivera, Silvia Corvera lab
Samantha Tse, Read Pukkila-Worley lab
Feng (Damon) Wang, Jonathan Watts lab
I-Hao Wang, Paul Greer lab
Shuhao Wang, Vivian Budnik lab
Anna Wortman, Paul Greer lab
Paul Yan, Athma Pai lab
Huiya Yang, Guangping Gao
    and Robert Brown labs
Qin Yang, Silvia Corvera lab
Yiyang Yuan, Christine Ulbricht lab
Boyao Zhang, Egil Lien lab
Jeffrey Zhou, Kate Fitzgerald lab