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PREP graduates, IMSD scholars honored; learn social side of science

Catherine Nagawa, PhD’22 (right), with Brian Lewis, PhD, is an IMSD scholar who helped organize the social side of science event.

Say you’re at a cocktail party or a dinner. Networking is involved—a job could be on the line. Which hand should you use to hold your drink? And on what side of your shirt should you wear your nametag?

Dean Libutti, EdD, MBA, associate vice president for enrollment management and student success at the University of Rhode Island, led a social side of science session with students in the UMass Chan Medical School Postbaccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP) and Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD) program on June 8 to answer these etiquette questions and others. During the five-course meal, Dr. Libutti revealed the answers: Hold your drink in your left hand so you don’t shake with a cold hand and put your nametag on your right side, so your hand-shaker sees your name as they naturally look to the left of your face.

“The more information and knowledge that we have, the more comfortable we can be. By being comfortable, it gives us an opportunity to bring our full selves to these types of activities,” said Brian Lewis, PhD, the George F. Booth Chair in the Basic Sciences, professor of molecular, cell & cancer biology, associate dean for diversity and pre-matriculation programs for the Morningside Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, and assistant vice provost for outreach and recruitment for UMass Chan. Dr. Lewis is the co-director of the PREP and IMSD programs with Kate Lapane, PhD, professor of population & quantitative health sciences and associate dean of clinical and population health research.

PhD candidate Timmy Le, entering his fourth year at UMass Chan, said he appreciated tips such as how far you should be from a table (a utensil length), which utensil to use first (work from outside to in) and how many pieces of meat to cut at a time (one).

“They’re these small subtle things that we’re not aware of,” Le said.

Shayla Newman-Toledo is an IMSD scholar and PREP alumna who just finished her first year as a PhD student at UMass Chan.

“We think we’re all observant people as scientists. But when it comes to navigating a room and an environment, I don’t think we’re as observant as we think we are. This is emphasizing to be more aware of not only yourself but the environment,” Newman-Toledo said.

Libutti has run a social side of science program more than 50 times since he and colleagues came up with the idea 20 years ago. This is his second time at UMass Chan. In addition to dinner etiquette, he also defined business casual dress and gave his advice for Zoom behavior (No interviews from your bed, please.).

“We work hard to educate our students inside the classroom and through internships and experiential opportunities. There are various tests, assessments and national exams that help them show their knowledge and skills. What we often forget is that there are so many skills students need in society and in the workplace,” Libutti said. 

Graduating PREP and IMSD scholars were recognized at the end of the program.

PREP and IMSD are National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded programs housed in the Morningside Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at UMass Chan. Eligible students are from backgrounds underrepresented in the biomedical sciences as defined by the NIH.

PREP is a year-long program that prepares students seeking careers in biomedical research for admission into PhD programs at UMass Chan or elsewhere. IMSD-supported trainees at UMass Chan receive an additional year of salary support and funds to attend national or international research and career development conferences.

Class of 2022 PREP scholars
Mahaa Albusharif
Delaney Billig
Taylor Bushika
Neethu Issac
Shannon Joyce
Ivanna Molina-Lopez
Rebecca Pavchinskiy

Class of 2022 IMSD scholars
Oluwabunmi Emidio
Daniel Hidalgo
Catherine Nagawa
Eric Romo
Javier Solivan-Rivera
Jacqueto Zephyr

Related UMass Chan news stories:
Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences hosts improv workshops for PREP, IMSD students
Science PREP a family affair for UMass Medical School’s Asli McCullers
Grant expands opportunities for underrepresented students in biomedical sciences to pursue graduate study