Biomedical Sciences Research Day becomes hybrid

On a hot summer day, the lights of the Academic Rotunda went out and a limited live audience took a masked, socially distant collective breath as Graduate Student Research Day (GSRD) returned as a in-person event for the first time in two years. In cyberspace, more than 130 additional people attended the annual celebration of the research achievements of biomedical science students in the Graduate School of UConn Health programs.

The pandemic forced last year’s event to be reduced to oral online-only presentations by one student representing each of the seven biomedical sciences focus areas and the previous year’s Lepow Prize winner. For the 38e annual event on August 5, the keynote speaker was reinstated and all presentations were able to be given to a live audience in a hybrid format. As the poster session and student lunch components continue to be disrupted due to ongoing COVID restrictions, overall attendees felt that even part of the live event was worth it. .

“I actually had fun presenting in front of real people for the first time in a year and a half,” said Corie Owen, new President of the Graduate Student Organization (GSO) and winner of the Oral Presentation Award. This year. “Zoom chats get the job done, but it can be difficult to present on your computer screen without seeing people’s facial signals to determine if they’re following or not. Being able to present again in front of people reminded me why I love to present, even with all the nerves!

Oral presenters at UConn Health Graduate School Biomedical Sciences Program 2021 Graduate Student Research Day are: (left to right) James Nevin, Nagham Khouri Farah, Ramalakshmi Ramasamy, Kirby Madden-Hennessey, Corie Owen, Adam Tanguay and Joseph Masison. (Photo by Stéphanie Rauch)

Neuroscience student Ramalakshmi Ramasamy agreed, saying, “Showing up in person in front of a crowd after such a long break was really stressful, but I think it’s the first step to getting back to ‘normal’, and so on. was good after the presentation. “

Students are also very aware of the lack of opportunities for social interaction between their peers.

“I was able to meet my friends from other departments after such a long time and heard about their exciting research advances,” Ramalakshmi said. “Events like this allow us to connect with researchers from all departments and provide opportunities for collaboration.”

Immunology student Blake Torrance, outgoing GSO president, echoed his sentiments.

“Fully virtual conferences / symposia [while workable] are a poor substitute for the interactive and engaging environment of an in-person event, ”said Torrance. “I think the 2021 GSRD was such a great experience for our students to finally reconnect after so long.”

Adam Tanguay, a student of skeletal biology and regeneration, concurred, noting that presenting the event in a safe manner remained a top priority.

“In a year where nothing has gone normal, I think hosting a safe, remote, in-person event in person has a lot of value, and the hybrid format has provided that,” Tanguay said.

This year’s keynote speaker, Professor Rebecca Page, joined the Cell Biology program at UConn Health in December 2020. Her research, regarding how we feel and react to our environment, which is communicated in the cell by vast Highly dynamic and interacting protein networks seemed an excellent choice for a conference intended to attract a wide range of research areas into the biomedical sciences program. She was delighted to have been invited to participate in the GSRD, which she considers “an absolutely essential event” as part of a student’s education.

Professor Rebecca Page delivering the opening speech
UConn Health cell biology professor Rebecca Page was the keynote speaker at the 38th Annual Graduate Student Research Day in the Biomedical Sciences Program at UConn Health Graduate School. (Photo provided by Rebecca Page)

“It also allows students to practice presenting their research, which is a key part of their graduate education,” Page said. “We as counselors teach, but the students also learn a lot from each other and this is a great forum for that to happen. “

And while this year’s Research Day didn’t quite live up to the previous year’s full schedule, the pandemic-imposed format could provide a silver lining for future iterations of the event.

“I hope we can actually continue to do this in the future, so that everyone has several options to attend,” Owen said of the oral presentations broadcast live. “Sometimes take a whole day off [to attend] is not possible, but with the hybrid model, it’s good that students and faculty can still connect even if they have a busy lab day.

Following the presentations, the program announced the recipients of the annual awards, including:

Edward G. Henderson Memorial Award for Outstanding Doctoral Thesis in Biomedical Sciences: Dr Ashley Russo, Area of ​​Concentration in Immunology, PI: Dr Vijay Rathinam

Lepow Prize for an Outstanding PhD Student in Biomedical Sciences entering the 4e School year: Andrew Harrison, Area of ​​Concentration in Immunology, PI: Dr Penghua Wang

Leadership Biomedical Sciences Service Award: Gabrielle Valles, area of ​​concentration in molecular biology and biochemistry, PI: Dr. Irina Bezsonova

Mentoring Biomedical Sciences Service Award: Dea Gorka, area of ​​focus in genetics and developmental biology, PI: Dr Stormy Chamberlain

GSRD Oral Presentation Award: Corie Owen, area of ​​concentration in cell biology, PI: Dr. Laurinda Jaffe

Osborn Award for Excellence in Training Graduates in Biomedical Sciences: Dr Evan Jellison, immunology

See the archived presentations of 38e Annual Graduate Student Research Day:

Research Graduates Day Morning Presentations August 5

Portrait of Marwa Elamin
Marwa Elamin, fifth year doctoral student. neuroscience student, is the 2020-21 recipient of the UConn Health Graduate School’s Lepow Prize for Outstanding Biomedical Science. (Photo provided by Marwa Elamin)

Opening remarks

Area of ​​concentration Oral presentations

    • Nagham Khouri Farah, Genetics and Developmental Biology
    • Kirby Madden-Hennessey, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry
    • Joseph Masison, Systems Biology
    • James Nevin, immunology
    • Corie Owen, cell biology
    • Ramalakshmi Ramasamy, neuroscience
    • Adam Tanguay, skeletal biology and regeneration

Afternoon presentations of the research day 5 August

Presentation of the winner of the Lepow Prize 2020-21

Marwa Elamin, IP: Eric Levine
Identification of cell phenotypes of Dup15q syndrome using human neurons derived from iPSC edited by CRISPR

Keynote speaker: Dr Rebecca Page, Professor of Cell Biology, UConn Health
Cracking the Phosphatase Code