BSD honors graduates at 536th Convocation

Twenty two of this year's PhD and MD graduates received divisional and program awards for their research projects.

This weekend, the University of Chicago will hold its 536th Convocation Ceremony. Graduates from all divisions and schools will have their degrees conferred, marking for many the culmination of some of the most challenging and enriching years of their lives.

The University will hold all ceremonies in person again this year. President Paul Alivisatos will preside over his first Convocation since joining UChicago last fall, and Wendy Freedman, PhD, the John and Marion Sullivan University Professor in Astronomy and Astrophysics, will deliver the faculty address. In addition to conferring degrees on this year’s graduates, the University will also present its annual teaching awards to faculty. David Kovar, PhD, Professor of Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and incoming Dean for Graduate Affairs in the Biological Sciences Division, will receive a Llewellyn John and Harriet Manchester Quantrell Award, believed to be the nation’s oldest prize for undergraduate teaching.

Earlier today, 78 PhD candidates across the BSD were recognized at a Divisional Academic Ceremony. The keynote speaker was Sean Carroll, PhD, the Vice President for Science Education at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. This year’s class included 15 graduating MD-PhDs, and several students also earned an MS degree, including five in the Master of Science in Public Health Sciences for Clinical Professionals Program. After graduation, many PhD students will continue their academic careers in academic or government research positions or by returning to medical school; several others are pursuing careers in industry research, technology development, communications, policy and regulation, or business and commercialization.

Last week on May 27, the Pritzker School of Medicine held its own ceremony to individually recognize our 81 graduating MD students. The keynote speaker for the MD ceremony was Eliseo Pérez-Stable, MD, the Director of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities at the National Institutes of Health. The vast majority of our MD graduates are already preparing to continue their medical education in residency programs, and as we were pleased to report in March, 20% of the graduating class will be undergo their residency at University of Chicago Medicine and pursue programs in various medical and surgical specialties.

This year’s graduates of the College will be honored separately this afternoon on Class Day. The performance of our undergraduates has always been exceptional. Traditionally, 54% of graduates from the Biological Sciences Collegiate Division have gone on to pursue PhD or MD programs, many of whom choose to stay at UChicago. More than 75 undergraduates have received research fellowships from the College, with additional students funded through career advancement programs. The College Center for Research and Fellowships recently hosted a symposium to highlight the work of dozens of undergraduate students, and the Collegiate Translational Medicine Program, a mentored, clinically-oriented translational research experience for undergraduates, held their own scientific session as well.

Program and Divisional Awards

As part of this year's convocation ceremonies, several PhD and MD graduates received divisional and program awards for their research projects.

PhD Program Awards

  • Haneul Yoo, Best Overall Dissertation, Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, “Chaperones remodel stress-induced biomolecular condensates” (Advisor: Allan Drummond)
  • William Parker, Public Health Sciences, “Transplant center practices and the survival benefit of organ transplantation” (Robert Gibbons)
  • Yanyu Liang, Genetics, Genomics, & Systems Biology, “Methods to dissect the biology of complex phenotypes using genomic, transcriptomic, and phenomic data” (Hae Kyung Im)
  • Timothy Scott Trinkle, Medical Physics, “Multi-modal validation of MR microstructure imaging in the mouse brain” (Patrick La Rivière)
  • Julia Meng, Cell and Molecular Biology, “Development of Motor Circuits: From Neuronal Stem Cells and Neuronal Diversity to Motor Circuit Assembly” (Ellie Heckscher)
  • Darshan Kasal, Immunology, “Delineating the development and transcriptional regulation of the innate lymphocyte lineage” (Albert Bendelac)
  • Yue Liu, Cancer Biology, “Tumor Cell Senescence in Cancer Therapy” (Stephen Kron)
  • Andrea Watson, Microbiology, “Determinants of microbial colonization and resilience in the human gut” (A. Murat Eren)
  • Avelino DeLeon, Molecular Metabolism and Nutrition, “The Impact of Weight Loss Surgery and the Budding Role of Cannabinoid Action in Adipose Tissue” (Matthew Brady)
  • Maayan Levy, Computational Neuroscience, “Network representation of stimuli in murine visual cortex” (David Freedman)
  • Xiaolin "Lindsay" Huang, Neurobiology, “Neural mechanisms of context-dependent sensory coding in the mammalian retina” (Wei Wei)
  • Rahul Subramanian, Ecology and Evolution, “Inferring the extent and impact of heterogeneity during emerging virus outbreaks” (Mercedes Pascual)

MD Program Awards

  • Shira Fishbach, Catherine Dobson Prize for best oral presentation on scientific investigation in clinical research or social sciences, “15 High Rates of Ultraviolet-Signature Mutations in Squamous Cell Carcinomas of the Parotid Gland and Prognostic Implications” (Mentor: Nicole Cipriani)
  • Alexander Guzzetta, Leon O. Jacobson Basic Science Prize for most meritorious basic science research by a MD/PhD student, “A Hedgehog-Fgf signaling axis patterns anterior mesoderm lineages during gastrulation” (Ivan Moskowitz)
  • James Fan, Leon O. Jacobson Prize for best oral presentation given by a non-PhD student in basic biological sciences, “Is miR let-7c protective against Acute Chest Syndrome in Sickle Cell Disease?” (Gabrielle Lapping-Carr)
  • Tyler Miksanek, Medical and Biological Sciences Alumni Association Prize for best presentation in applied scholarship, “Time-Based Billing Preferentially Benefits Low Volume Clinics” (Neda Laiteerapong)
  • Itzel Lopez-Hinojosa, Alpern Preisig Research Prize for Impact on Society, “A Qualitative Study of Violent Political Rhetoric and Health Implications for Spanish and Chinese Speaking Immigrants” (Elizabeth Tung)
  • Jorge De Avila, Award for Best Poster Describing Applied Scholarship, “33 Historical Perspective on the Evolution of the Concepts and Pedagogy of the Health Equity, Advocacy, and Anti-Racism (HEAR) Course via Student Reflections” (Milda Saunders)
  • Mark Dapash, Award for Best Poster Describing Scientific Investigation in Basic Sciences, “38 Dual TGF-β and PD1 blockade promotes germinal-center B-cell immune responses against glioblastoma” (Catalina Lee-Chong)
  • Aaditi Naik, Award for Best Poster Describing Scientific Investigation in Clinical Research or Social Sciences, “35 Factors Influencing the Likelihood that Black and Non-Black Patients with Pelvic Pain Proceed to Surgery” (Amanda Adeleye)
  • Yazan Eliyan, Alpern Preisig Research Prize for Impact on Society (Poster), “56 Olfactory Dysfunction Predicts the Development of Depression in Older US Adults” (Jayant Pinto)
  • Lia DeRoin, Franklin McLean Medical Student Research Award, “43 Feasibility and limitations of cultured skin fibroblasts for germline genetic testing in hematologic disorders” (Jane Churpek)

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