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Vol. LIX, No. 23
November 16, 2007
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Graduate Student Research Festival Gives Early Look At NIH Training


  Former trainees Dr. Arti Patel Varanasi (l) and Dr. Eric Snapp address the students.  
  Former trainees Dr. Arti Patel Varanasi (l) and Dr. Eric Snapp address the students.  
For 2 days in October, graduate students from across the country had the opportunity to learn what it might be like to conduct research at NIH. The National Graduate Student Research Festival gave attendees the chance to present research to an audience of peers and NIH scientists, explore opportunities for postdoctoral training, learn more about approaches to research here, network with NIH fellows and investigators and, for many, see the NIH campus for the first time.

“It’s a great opportunity for people in the position we’re in now, who haven’t even defended a thesis yet” to learn more about NIH, said Kathryn Lipson, visiting from the University of Massachusetts Medical School. She was one of 244 students who presented posters at the festival.

Students were also able to attend several concurrent scientific sessions on topics ranging from genetics to cancer to cell-matrix interactions.

One of the most popular events proved to be the former trainee panel, featuring six postdoc alums discussing their NIH training experience. The panelists, who now work in a variety of settings, provided insightful overviews of their time here.

“When I was looking for somewhere to go [for postdoc training], I didn’t yet have a clear idea of what I wanted to do,” said Dr. Kathleen Dohoney, who now works for Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research. “Having so many opportunities here helped me make decisions about where I wanted to go with my career.”

Graduate student Laura Barbosky of Duke University happily presents her poster. Dr. Kathleen Dohoney (r) discusses her NIH experience on the alumni panel.
Clockwise from top left: Graduate student Laura Barbosky of Duke University happily presents her poster. Dr. Kathleen Dohoney (r) discusses her NIH experience on the alumni panel. Panelist Dr. Nora Gardner takes questions from the audience. As the panel looks on, Dr. Arti Patel Varanasi (l) relays what she learned in her time at NIH.
As the panel looks on, Dr. Arti Patel Varanasi (l) relays what she learned in her time at NIH. Panelist Dr. Nora Gardner takes questions from the audience.

Audience members posed pointed questions to the panelists on everything from the differences between training at NIH and at a university to what kind of conflicts they had here. Jennifer Sims, from the University of Southern California, found the panel informative. “It was nice to hear about different career opportunities in very realistic terms,” she said.

Lipson agreed, saying the discussion provided practical suggestions for how to go about choosing where to receive postdoc training. “Not everyone will end up here,” she said, “but we’re all going to do a postdoc, so this has all been really useful.”— NIH Record Icon

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