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Plenary Session and Workshop for Undergraduate Researchers

Thursday, July 14, 2016

4:00 - 6:00 pm

North Tower: Sawgrass

Undergraduate TAGC attendees are welcome to attend this workshop featuring two plenary talks crafted for an undergrad audience and a panel of graduate student speakers answering questions about the graduate school experience, from application to prelims to thesis defense.

4:00-4:30 pm: "Transvection and inter-chromosomal gene regulation: how a bad day in the lab can turn into a research program."

Thomas Merritt, PhD - Professor, Laurentian University

A transplanted American, Merritt is a professor and Canada Research Chair at Laurentian University in Northern Ontario. Based in Drosophila genetics, Merritt's eclectic research program has branched out to include other invertebrates, fish, birds, and the microbial communities that drive acid mine drainage, the environmental damage that accompanies rock mining. Active outside of the lab, Merritt was part of building a multi-million dollar rowing, paddling, and dragon boating facility just off the LU campus, and coaches a ParaSport program (rowing and paddling for people with disabilities) out of that facility.

"I'm active in STEM outreach, including being on the Board of Partners in Research, a national program."

4:30-5:00 pm: "Why are Drosophila sperm so long?"

Mollie Manier, PhD - Assistant Professor, George Washington University
Dr. Manier has studied population genetics in garter snakes and toads, tissue-specific gene expression with microarrays in sea urchins, and quantitative genetics, molecular genetics, and transcriptomics in Drosophila. She is currently getting into developmental genetics, immunogenetics, and microbiomes, and hopes to someday study epigenetics. Other interests include: mentoring, biking, parenting, boxing, food, beer. (Not necessarily in that order.)
"I love all things evolution and genetics."

5:00-6:00 pm: Graduate Student Panel

Experience a Q& A with a panel of graduate students answering questions about the graduate school experience, from application to prelims to thesis defense.


John McMullen, MSc - 2nd Year Graduate Student, Cornell University
John is going into his second year as a PhD student at Cornell University. He completed a joint BS/MS program at University of Arizona. The extra time he spent doing a MS helped John decide that a PhD was the right thing for him to do because it gave him a glimpse it want graduate school life is like.
"Graduate school is an exciting time in life where you develop yourself into the scientist you hope to become. Take advantage of every opportunity you can, but remember to have some fun along the way!"

Jennifer Sun, Msc, Mphil - 3rd Year Graduate Student, PhD Candidate, Yale University
Jenn is a proud Rutgers University alumna, who is now pursuing her PhD in the Carlson laboratory at Yale University. Her journey from public to private universities involved switching majors in her junior year, which was quite the turning point in her academic career - she became a tutor, mentor, teaching assistant, and instructor at Rutgers, all while completing her senior honors thesis, applying to PhD programs, and graduating in her senior year. Jenn continues to apply her time management skills to her graduate school career, enjoying challenging hikes and scenic adventures while tackling her research question
"I marvel at the translatability of science - scientists from different fields can join forces to effortlessly tackle society's issues."

Alessandro Bailetti, MSc - 4th Year Graduate Student, PhD Candidate, NYU School of Medicine
Alessandro was born in Peru and moved to the States 12 years ago. He has an Associate of Arts degree from Pensacola State College from 2009 and transferred to Cornell University where he got his BSc in 2012. He is now a PhD candidate at NYU where he is studying blood development in fruit flies. As a graduate student he is a Jack Kent Cooke Scholar and an NSF Graduate Research Fellow. Alessandro mentors undergraduate transfer students through the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation and is a mentor and a Board member of Clear Direction Mentoring Program.
Alessandro has been invited to talk to multiple venues about his experience as a minority transfer student interested in a career in science. He enjoys teaching and talking about science to non-scientists.

José Pelliccia, MSc - 4th Year Graduate Student, PhD Candidate, Princeton University
José will be beginning his fifth year as a graduate student (PhD candidate) in the Department of Molecular Biology at Princeton University. Prior to graduate school, José worked for three years as a laboratory technician at an academic research institution followed by a year as a scientist at a start-up biotech. When not in lab, José spends his time with his wife of eight years and will soon be spending some of that time with his son, who will be born in October.
"I’ve come to realize that research can be both satisfying and frustrating at times. But my love for research makes my life very fulfilling."

Elyse Hope - 6th Year Graduate Student, PhD Candidate, University of Washington

Elyse is starting her sixth year of graduate school in the University of Washington Department of Genome Sciences; she received her BA at Stanford University. Her early background in physics and engineering gives her a unique approach to the biological sciences, and she is looking forward to applying her mixed experiences to a career in industry. She believes work/life balance can boost scientific productivity (as well as happiness) and together with her husband she pursues serious extracurricular interests in dance and fitness.

"Choosing a graduate program is about choosing a community. Who will be your teammates during your foundational years as a scientist?"

Not pictured:

Miriam Akeju, 1st Year Graduate Student, Johns Hopkins Medical Institute