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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CGSA Elections!

Here are the  CGSA election results! Congratulations to our incoming Board!  The outgoing Board will be on hand to help with the transition in the coming weeks and rest of the term.
President: Karen Kemirembe (Rasgon Lab)
Vice President: Alexandre Blake (Bharti Lab)
Secretary: Fhallon Ware-Gilmore (McGraw Lab)
Treasurer: Allyson Ray (Grozinger Lab)
Webmaster: Thu Tran (Boni Lab) & Kelly Rios (Lindner Lab)
Synopsis Coordinator: Ellen Brandell (Hudson Lab)
Social Chair: Kelsee Baranowski (Bharti Lab)
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CGSA Mock Grant Panel Event with Dr. Andrew Read

This post was written by Tyler O. Jones (Grozinger Lab PhD Student) and edited by Catherine Herzog

The last CGSA led event for 2018 was a Mock Grant Panel, led by Dr. Andrew Read on December 11th.  I, along with two other graduate students, Catherine Herzog (Bjørnstad Lab) and Becky Johnson (Rasgon Lab), spent time with Dr. Andrew Read to understand the ins and outs of being on a grant review panel.

We were each given a 2-page grant that we may (or may not) know anything about. I’ll be honest, as soon as I saw my article, I knew what the words meant individually, but the depth of knowledge was not there.  

And that was the point.

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New semester, new CGSA plans.

The Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics (CIDD) Graduate Student’s Association – CGSA held its first board meeting of the Spring 2019 semester this afternoon in W-203 Millennium Science Complex. In attendance were all current CGSA officers, as well as the newly appointed Faculty- Student Liaison, Dr. Ottar Bjornstad.

Updates were shared by officers e.g the snack cabinet (our major source of income) being restocked by the Treasurer, and a reminder will be sent out reminding the CIDD community of its location and conditions for use. The Secretary requested help with ordering Thursday CIDD seminar speaker lunches (attended by grad students) for when she will be busy. The Social chair proposed a happy hour at Liberty Crafthouse in mid January or early February. We discussed the importance of the present officers’ home departments (Entomology (ENT), Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (BMB), Molecular, Cellular and Integrative Biosciences (MCIBS), Biology (BIO)) reaching out to any potential recruits interested in doing infectious disease research during upcoming recruitment weekends in late January – mid February so they know of our existence and of our potential role in their professional development should they choose to attend Penn State. The webmaster will continue to populate the CGSA calendar with campus-wide disease related events as well as write a blog about our events. Continue reading

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SOCCER five o’clock, BE THERE!! The Story of the MSC Social Soccer meet-ups

This post was written by Dr. Kevin Hart (former Lindner Lab PhD Student, current CIDD PostDoc) and edited by Catherine Herzog

“SOCCER five o’clock, BE THERE!!” can commonly be heard throughout the Millennium Science Complex on weeks throughout the year.

An attempt to recruit people to come out and play soccer with the MSC F.C. (The Millennium Science Complex Football Club) started years ago at CIDD. Over the past four or so years, this soccer group has grown, inspired by memories of those who played CIDD soccer in the past. When I first arrived as a first-year grad student, I was drawn into this community quickly and learned that they played soccer weekly. Unfortunately, the group dissolved and didn’t start again – leaving a gap. I wanted that sense of community back, not just for me but to bring people together, both for the love of the sport and to make new friends.

CIDD Soccer Blog Pic 3

Photo Credit: Catherine Herzog

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CGSA holds December trainee meeting

A few grad students came out today to the Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics (CIDD) graduate student Association (CGSA) December trainee meeting, organized by Vice President Molly Rathbun. The goal of this meeting was to reflect on the end of the semester and to discuss suggested and planned events for next semester. Each participant shared with the group their short and long term research goals, the highlights of the past year, and the things that they are most excited about regarding their research topics. Some suggested topics for half day technical workshops included: 1) A resume vs CV  workshop 2) Transcriptomic analysis with Dr. Istvan Albert 3) Data visualization in R 4) Social Organization and infectious diseases with Dr. Laura Pomeroy, and 5) Methods of data acquisition e.g using apps like Fulcrum to simplify data collection in the field.  If you are interested in becoming a CGSA officer, board member, stay tuned; nomination solicitation and election information will be disseminated next Spring 2019 semester.

This event was the third in a series of trainee meetings aimed at preparing for a T32 grant application. As usual, food was provided. Thanks again to Molly Rathbun (CGSA Vice President) for organizing this. Stay tuned for more CGSA events by signing up here.

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Obtaining Foundation Funding 101

Are you a graduate student/ post-doc/ recent graduate seeking funding alternatives beyond Federal and State agencies? Or perhaps you are an International student that finds themselves ineligible for many U.S funded grants. You might be in the Humanities/ Performing Arts and find that most funding applies to the Social Sciences, or a student looking to fund a community project or conduct international research. Whatever your background/ needs are, there is likely a Foundation for you. I recently attended a grant writing workshop hosted by the Penn State Graduate School entitled “ Foundation Funding: Identification and Approach Strategies”- led by Lee Carpenter, and learned the basics of how to go about preparing and applying for Foundation financial awards.

So- you have your big idea, where do you start? Below is a summary of that presentation.

Phase 1: Self-reflection  Continue reading

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Students chat with new CIDD Director, Dr. Elizabeth McGraw

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On Wednesday November 7th, 2018, Center for Infectious Disease -affiliated graduate students met with newly appointed Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics (CIDD) Director, Dr. Elizabeth McGraw (Professor and Huck Scholar in Entomology). The goal of the meeting was to get to know Dr. McGraw, to learn about her vision for the future of CIDD and for her to hear our suggestions for event programming this year, as well as to address any deficiencies in the community.

The meeting started off with student and faculty introductions, followed by Dr. McGraw stating her visions for CIDD, namely:  Continue reading

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Join us Nov 16th for CIDDgiving potluck

RSVP here. Poster credit: Fhallon Chiara Ware-Gilmore.

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Grad students present at Thursday CIDD seminar


Grad students, Nicole ‘Nikki’ Hackenbrack (Hafenstein Lab) and Timothy J. ‘TJ’ Russell (Llinas lab) presented their thesis research work at the weekly CIDD seminar on November 1st, 2018. TJ discussed his findings relating to the disruption of an Apicomplexan AP2 transcription factor, Pf14_0633. Nikki presented her work on solving the Cryo-EM structure of pepper cryptic virus 1.

Center for Infectious Disease seminars are held every Thursday in W-203 Millennium Science Building preceded by social coffee time in W-202 MSC. More on upcoming talks here. Most speakers are non-Penn State faculty, but once a semester we have a slot each for 2-3 graduate students and post-docs to present their work.

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Panel on How to get an academic post-doc

Four professors were kind enough to share their tips on the post doctoral researcher position search process on Oct 25th, 2018. Drs. Andrew Read, Evan Pugh Professor of Biology and Entomology and upcoming Director of the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences, Manuel Llinas, Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Beth McGraw, Professor of Entomology and newly-appointed CIDD Director, and Jessica Conway, Assistant Professor of Mathematics, led the discussion.

Topics addressed included were where to look for a post-doc position (conferences, twitter, individual lab websites, Scientific society websites/ newsletters, attending seminars), the proactive vs reactive methods: should you wait for a position to be advertised or could you cold email someone (both work depending on the situation)? They chatted about different ways to approach Principal Investigator’s (PIs) to inquire about a position or to ask them to be a PI on your research proposal grant. They also explained process of accepting/turning down position, and emphasizing honesty in case you have several to choose from. Student’s concerns regarding switching fields/ topics from one’s PhD to a post-doc (It’s okay, as long as you can explain why you are doing so and how you and your proposed future lab will benefit) were addressed. Switching shows that you aren’t a one trick pony, are flexible and are willing to learn.  Continue reading

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