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.

Continue reading

Posted in Academics, Club Business, Journal Club, Outreach, Professional Training, Social | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in Club Business, News | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

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.

Continue reading

Posted in News | 1 Comment

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?’

Continue reading

Posted in News | 2 Comments

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.

Posted in News | Leave a comment

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

Posted in News | 1 Comment

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

Posted in News | Leave a comment

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

Posted in News | Leave a comment

Recap: Career paths in administration with Dr. Neil Sharkey


Photo Credit: Dr. Andrew Read

During this week’s CIDD lunch, grad students, post-docs, and faculty eagerly assembled to listen to Dr. Neil Sharkey, Vice President for Research at Penn State.

Dr. Sharkey shared with the group his not-so-traditional path to his current administrative position – starting work as a med tech in a hospital and over time becoming a research scientist, Associate Dean, and then Vice President for Research. Over the course of the talk, a recurring theme was gaining management skills to work with people of different backgrounds and different skills sets.  Specifically highlighted skills included: being able to manage change (both happy and unhappy), being able to make fair decisions in a timely way, being able to network and socialize, public speaking, and gaining satisfaction from problem solving.  Additionally, Dr. Sharkey emphasized how important it was to be the best scientist you are capable of being.  Excellent scientists are often chosen for these positions by universities to serve as an example (or an ideal) of the kind of research going on at the university.  What surprised Dr. Sharkey most in his new position was how much time he would spend dealing with attorneys and doing bureaucratic work.

Continue reading

Posted in News | 2 Comments

CGSA Lunch with Speaker Dr. Sabra Klein

Please RSVP for lunch here.

CIDD  seminar:  Dr. Sabra Klein,  Associate Professor of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, will lead thediscussion.

Sex as a biological variable in infectious disease pathogenesis

When:   Thursday, April 27, 2017, 11:00 am – 12:00 pm

Where:  W-203 Millennium Science Complex

Posted in News | Leave a comment

Tutorial: Plotting Lyme Disease Cases across Michigan counties with ggplot2

Here is a tutorial for anyone interested in learning how to create maps with ggplot2. We’re going to investigate the incidence of Lyme Disease cases across Michigan.


Continue reading

Posted in News | 2 Comments