CIDD Graduate Students: What do we do?

Many of us including graduate students, post docs, and faculty, gathered together on Monday to discuss who we are as CIDD, what we expect of ourselves, and what the faculty expect of us. Additionally, we discussed and proposed multiple venues in which students and post docs would have the opportunity to discuss their ideas, research/data, job opportunities, and life in general. So for those of you who are curious about grad life at CIDD or are hopelessly wishing for more scientific opportunities to land at your feet…pay attention.

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Words of Wisdom from @vectorgen

For the CIDD grads of twitter, Jason Rasgon (@vectorgen) should be in your news feed. Jason tweets about making it in academia, the life scientific, and his general research updates. In one of my favorite recent threads, Jason lists rules to follow for those of us interested in following the path to tenure (and beyond) in academia.

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NSF Grants: CGSA Grant Writing Workshop Series continues

The fifth workshop in the CGSA Grant Writing Workshop Series. “Tips, Tricks, and Experience Applying to NSF Grants” was held February 21, 2018.  Our speakers were Dr. Isabella Cattadori and Dr. Nita Bharti, who shared NSF DEB (Division of Environmental Biology) and NSF CHN (Coupled Human Natural systems) grant, respectively, with the CIDD students and postdocs ahead of the meeting.  This time, an unsuccessful version and re-submitted successful version of each grant was shared, along with the reviewer feedback and some budget and facilities paperwork – allowing regular attendees of the seminar series to see a side of the grants that they hadn’t seen before!

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Tips for Writing and Submitting NIH Grants: More from the CGSA Grant Writing Workshop Series

The fourth workshop in the CGSA Grant Writing Workshop Series has flown by!  In late January, the CGSA focused on NIH grants.

Dr. Jason Rasgon and Dr. Scott Lindner presented on grants they had shared with the attendees ahead of time for advance reading, including a R01 and a R21.  It was interesting to see the differences in the packages within the NIH and compare to the NSF EEID grants from previous workshops.    Continue reading

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Welcome new officers!

CGSA elections took place earlier this month and we are excited to announce that the 2018-2019 CGSA board will be:

President: Catherine Herzog (Bjornstad lab)

Vice President: Molly Rathbun (Szpara lab)

Secretary: Natalie Imirzian (Hughes lab)

Treasurer: Cory Henderson (Rasgon lab)

Web Master: Karen Kemirembe (Rasgon lab)

Synopsis Coordinator: Allyson Ray (Grozinger lab)

Welcome new officers! Stay tuned for our website to be updated with more officer info and plans for the future of CGSA.

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CGSA Workshop Reflections 2017

Happy New Year!

As we begin a new semester, I wanted to reflect on the successful series of workshops put on by the CGSA in Fall 2017 and use it to propel us into the new term.  The CGSA is currently soliciting ideas for Spring workshops – technical or professional development – so please reach out to us!

In September, we held two Phylodynamics Chats with Dr. Maciek Boni and one ‘Figure Troubleshooting’ workshop with Dr. Amalie McKee, summarized in our previous post here.  The second phylodynamics chat covered the concepts of a molecular clock and delved into equations for how to calculate mutation rate and what sampling schemes would be required to do so.  These hand calculations were related back to the calculations that the software BEAST uses.   Maciek also delved into an introductory explanation of likelihood and how it related to BEAST calculations of the maximum likelihood estimate of the molecular clock.


Photo Credit: Catherine Herzog

In October, we launched our CGSA Grant Writing Workshop Series with 3 workshops, all of which were well attended and well reviewed by grads and postdocs (and even faculty!). The CGSA intends this series to serve as professional development training for grad students and post-docs to prepare us for a successful future in writing our own grants.  Each 1 hour session is on a different topic and has 1-2 presenters.  In the first workshop, Dr. Lorraine Mulfinger, Director of the Strategic Interdisciplinary Research Office (SIRO), provided an overview of the various ways to find funding across multiple agencies.  She provided  worksheets with examples of funding solicitations so attendees could learn to determine which funding opportunities fit their own research interests and to practice identifying differences among the agency solicitations and jargon.  Dr. Mulfinger also provided a structure and activity on how to plan a project timeline and break a proposal into reasonable component tasks.

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CGSA Workshops have begun!

The new academic year is off to a great start and we’ve now had two CGSA Chats or Workshops.


Photo Credit: Catherine Herzog

On September 7th, Dr. Maciej Boni met with the graduate students for a whiteboard chat about phylogenetics and the questions ‘What is a phylogenetic tree?’, ‘What are the types of phylogenetic trees?’, and ‘How are phylogenetic trees built?’

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Guide for CIDD students, Part II: ‘Life at CIDD’

Welcome to the new semester at CIDD!  CGSA President Jo Ohm released an excellent guide to CIDD for incoming and continuing students in her recent blog post here.

With contributions from other CGSA members, I have compiled a ‘Life at CIDD’ Google Spreadsheet.  This spreadsheet contains lists of interesting trainings CIDD students have applied to/attended, funding opportunities, seminars, listservs, centers/clubs of interest on campus, conferences and podcasts of interest, outreach opportunities, etc.

The purpose of this document is to be the document/guide I wish I had had when I started at CIDD to get me up and running and connected faster.  What sorts of things do you all wish you had known?  We WELCOME additions from the entire CIDD community to this document!  Please email me at with additions or suggestions you may have for any section of the document.

The spreadsheet can be viewed here.  It is also available to view on our CGSA website under the Resources tab, labeled Funding and Training Resources.

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New semester at CIDD: a guide for incoming students

This week marks the start of a new semester for graduate students at the CIDD. For new students: welcome! CIDD and the broader Penn State community have a lot of ongoing events, activities and available resources that CGSA wants to makes sure you are aware of. Here’s a guide to some of the most important things to keep on your radar: Continue reading

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Communicating Science: Examples to follow from ComSciCon


The annual Communicating Science workshop for graduate students, ComSciCon, gathered students and science journalists from all over the country to meet for a three day workshop in Cambridge, Mass. last week. The conference included workshops on developing K-12 curriculum, using social media to communicate science and telling a good story in addition to panel discussions on diversity in STEM, science advocacy, media and journalism, and a keynote by Ed Yong, science writer for the Atlantic.

The workshop is open to scientists from all fields: geology, astronomy, ecology, computer science. Continue reading

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CGSA Lunch with Speaker Dr. Christopher Hunter

RSVP for lunch with the speaker here.


CIDD  seminar:  Dr. Christopher Hunter, Mindy Halikman Heyer Distinguished Professor of Pathobiology, University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine and Chairman of the Department of Pathobiology at the University of Pennsylvania, will leadthe discussion.

Imaging host-pathogen interactions in the CNS

When:   Thursday, May 4, 2017, 11:00 am – 12:00 pm

Where:  W-203 Millennium Science Complex

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