Life sciences students win awards at regional symposium
Two participants in Virginia Tech’s Post Baccalaureate Research and Education Program and Initiative for Maximizing Student Development received awards at the Second Annual Mid-Atlantic symposium in May at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The programs are supported by the National Institutes of Health.
Stephanie “Nikki” Lewis, of Newport News, Virginia, a postdoctoral associate in the College of Science, graduated from Virginia Tech with a Ph.D. in genetics, bioinformatics, and computational biology in 2013.
She received the Distinguished Mid-Atlantic Alumni Award. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in biology from Christopher Newport University, Lewis started at Virginia Tech in 2007, working with David Bevan, a professor of biochemistry in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and a Fralin Life Science Institute affiliate.
She currently works with the inVenTs living-learning communities directed by Jill Sible, a professor of biological sciences and assistant provost for undergraduate education; Bevlee Watford, an associate dean in the College of Engineering and director of the Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Diversity; and Susan Arnold-Christian, assistant director of the center.
Kevin Hughes of Las Vegas received a bachelor’s degree in biology from Simpson College in 2013 and received an award at the event for his poster, “Identification of an interplay between kinetochore attachment and spindle organization.”
Hughes currently works in the laboratory of Daniela Cimini, an associate professor of biological sciences in the College of Science and a Fralin Life Science Institute affiliate. In August, Hughes will begin a Ph.D. in molecular, cellular, developmental biology and genetics at Yale University.
Fifteen scholars and faculty from Virginia Tech attended the symposium, which is the brainchild of several Virginia Tech faculty, including Bevan; Dennis Dean, director of the Fralin Life Science Institute; Anne McNabb, a professor emerita of biological sciences and associate dean emerita of the graduate school; Ed Smith, a professor of animal and poultry sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; and Eric Wong, a professor of animal and poultry sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
“Since the first cohort in 2003 and after two competitive renewals, our scholars have embraced our community-based training program to acquire lifelong skills and habits needed to succeed in pursuing the Ph.D. and a career in the biomedical sciences,” said Smith. “We’re very proud that our students were recognized for their hard work at the symposium.”
The Virginia Tech Post Baccalaureate Research and Education program is a 12-month program that seeks to provide individualized mentoring and a supportive learning environment to post-baccalaureate students from historically underrepresented groups interested in pursuing a Ph.D. and a research career in biomedical and behavioral sciences and engineering.
Started in 2003 with funding from the NIH and now co-directed by Wong and Smith, the program has produced 15 doctoral, one doctor of medicine, and 10 master’s degree recipients.
The Virginia Tech Initiative for Maximizing Student Development Program, is a four-to-five-year training program with two years of funding from NIH that uses developmental and experiential learning activities to support doctoral as well as undergraduate students from historically underrepresented groups who want to pursue a Ph.D. and a research career in biomedical or behavioral fields in science or engineering.
Started in 2007 with funding from the National Institutes of Health and now co-directed by Smith and Bevan, the program has produced nine doctoral and two master’s degree recipients.