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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CIDD GSA kicks off Fall 2018 semester with a Town Hall Meeting


On Mon Aug 27th, 2018, the Center for Infectious Disease (CIDD) Graduate Students Association (CGSA) hosted a town hall meeting as part of the weekly CIDD lunch discussion series, where students, post-docs, faculty or invited speakers convene to discuss current issues/ research in a relaxed environment. According to Catherine Herzog, the current CGSA President, the goal was to increase graduate student involvement at the CIDD, and to create a sense of community amongst CIDD- affiliated graduate students and postdocs. She cited that “because we [CGSA] are a unique, center-level organization that aims to provide programming and training that CIDD students cannot find in their own departments, grad and faculty engagement with the CGSA is essential to keep our programming moving forward.”  Continue reading

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Welcome to a New Year! CGSA & the CIDD Community

CIDD Community –

As the current CIDD Graduate Student Association (CGSA) President, I wanted to remind the current CIDD community that CGSA is an active part of CIDD. Our mission is to increase graduate student involvement in CIDD and create a sense of community within CIDD.  We do so by supporting CIDD graduate students and post-docs in professional development, outreach, job hunting, academic pursuits, and social engagement, while providing a lively collegial environment in which we can learn and collaborate. We are a unique, center- wide organization that aims to provide programming and training that CIDD students cannot find in their own departments and grad and faculty engagement with the CGSA is essential to keep our programming moving forward.

To support CGSA and keep us thriving, the CGSA Board wants to point out some actions the entire CIDD community can do to help us have the most impact:

1. Get connected: Have all grads subscribe to the CIDD grads listserv
. Go to the IT page to manage listserv subscriptions and search for to subscribe. We send out one email digest of events, trainings, and funding opportunities on campus every Wednesday.  Make sure the fellow graduates in your lab are all on this list.  If you’re a postdoc/research associate/tech/faculty, contact Monica Arismendi ( to get on the L-CIDD and/or postdocs listservs.

2. Come to the first CGSA meeting of the year. “CIDD Town Hall” during CIDD Lunch Monday, August 27, 12pm, W201 MSC. We’ll briefly introduce ourselves and our programming and then start a discussion about programming at CIDD.  Faculty, post-docs, and grads are all highly encouraged to come.

3. Follow our CGSA website, Twitter, and LinkedIn page. The websitehas a blog, calendar, job board, and other useful information for CIDD grad students and post-docs.  Subscribe to the website blog.  Retweet us!  Twitter: @CIDDGrads LinkedIn: Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics (CIDD).

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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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