NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

NIEHS ‘Fellow Appreciation Week’ Honors Trainees

Large group of fellows stand together outside, winding around a staircase
A group photo on the NIEHS campus of the 2022 trainees who attended Fellow Appreciation Week

Photo:  Credit Steve McCaw/NIEHS

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences recently held the 13th annual Fellow Appreciation Week to recognize trainees for their contributions to scientific discovery. Honorees include postbaccalaureate, predoctoral, postdoctoral and visiting researchers who are exploring the biomedical and environmental health sciences alongside NIEHS intramural investigators. The Office of Fellows’ Career Development (OFCD) hosted the celebratory events.

“NIEHS Fellow Appreciation Week is an opportunity for all of us to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of our outstanding trainees,” said NIEHS Scientific Director Dr. Darryl Zeldin. “NIEHS trainees are our future scientific leaders and perhaps the most critical component of our workforce. On behalf of NIEHS leadership, we extend our thanks to them and acknowledge the contributions of all our trainees to the success of our institute.”

The week is NIEHS’s version of National Postdoc Appreciation Week. Both began in 2009 as Postdoctoral Appreciation Day, then expanded to a week-long celebration in 2010. In 2017, NIEHS began including all levels of trainees. This year’s events were held in person after being held virtually in 2020 and in a hybrid format in 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

A man lies on ground beside microscope drawn in colorful chalk and the words "human studies"
Dr. Gary Bird, staff scientist in the Signal Transduction Laboratory, is one of the organizers of the annual Big Picture, Small Talk competition. For this spin on that event, Bird wrote “Human Studies” and drew a giant microscope. He demonstrated how people could interact with the display by putting their head on the microscope stage.

Photo:  Credit Steve McCaw/NIEHS

“I started just a few months before the shutdown,” said Dr. Ayland Letsinger, a postdoctoral researcher in the ion channel physiology group. “The social distancing was especially hard knowing we were all missing out on potential friendships and collaborations. Having so many trainees in one spot laughing together during the events of Fellow Appreciation Week represented a brilliant return to what we have been missing.”

Dr. Katie Headley, a postdoctoral fellow in the eukaryotic transcriptional regulation group, said, “Over 80 people signed up for the event, and not only trainees, but also a lot of scientific principal investigators who seemed to be having just as much fun as the trainees.”

“We had a big turn out,” said Dr. Mercedes Arana, OFCD acting director. “We were excited to see all the trainees, scientists and staff enjoying themselves. I am grateful to the OFCD team for making the event so successful.”

A postbaccalaureate fellow in the mutagenesis and DNA repair regulation group, Daniel Nguyen noted, “[OFCD] helped to create a supportive and enriching community and Fellow Appreciation Week certainly showcased that. I cannot thank them enough.”

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