Awardees: (left to right) TJ Waller; Jessy Martinez; Anoumid Vaziri;  Lyle Simmons, Associate Chair for Graduate Studies; Sarah VanDiepenbos; Olive Burata; Xi Yang; Y Hoang; 
Jennifer Landino

Excellence across all areas of work in the Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology was highlighted at the recent retreat when the department recognized accomplishments of our students and trainees.

New this year were MCDB Excellence Awards

 "The nominees for each award category were excellent,” according to Lyle Simmons, professor of MCDB and Associate Chair for Graduate Studies. He headed the committee that selected the award winners. “The strength of the nominees speaks strongly to the impressive contributions and qualities of our students and postdocs to research, teaching, DEI and the MCDB community."

MCDB Excellence Awards

Excellence in Graduate Student Research:

Anoumid Vaziri from the Monica Dus' Lab was recognized for her discovery that high dietary sugar and not obesity leads to overeating by irreversibly reprogramming taste cells.

Excellence in Graduate Student DEI:

Jessy Martinez from Sarah Aton's Lab was recognized for his numerous efforts in DEI. These efforts included founding Grad Gab – a formal peer-to-peer mentoring program, helping to create and lead the curriculum for the MCDB Horizons Summer Research Program and his outreach to K-12 students.

Excellence in Graduate Student Service:

TJ Waller from Cathy Collins' Lab was recognized for his numerous contributions to service in MCDB. TJ's efforts include being a member and head of the Graduate Student Council, the MCDB GEO steward for our program, helping organize department retreats and founding several outreach efforts. 

Excellence in Graduate Student Teaching:

Sarah VanDiepenbos from Györgyi Csankovszki's Lab was recognized for her contributions to teaching Biology 172. Her contributions included numerous GSI appointments for this course in addition to her development and maintenance of Problem Roulette with over 1000 practice questions and her role in the Foundational Course Initiative to improve Biology 172. 

Excellence in Postdoctoral Research:

Dr. Xi Yang from Ming Li's Lab was recognized for his discovery that the E3 ligase complex (Dsc complex) has an adaptor guiding the Dsc complex to the Golgi and another adaptor that guides the Dsc complex to the lysosome to aid in protein quality control. 

Retreat Awards

Also presented were awards for the best talks at the retreat. They went:

  • Olive Burata, Ph.D. student, Stockbridge Lab
  • Jennifer Landino, postdoctoral fellow, Miller Lab
  • Y Hoang, postdoctoral fellow, Vecchiarelli Lab

MCDB Lab Coat Ceremony

In addition, we recognized the milestone reached by our students who have passed their second check point and are now considered PhD candidates. We presented them with lab coats embroidered with MCDB initials. Due to the pandemic, the class of 2019 was not able to receive their coats so they also were given out at this retreat.

Class 2020

  • Hwayeon Cha, Bo Duan Lab
  • Jennie Hibma, Simmons Lab
  • Sarah Jasich, Wierzbicki Lab
  • Hannah Navarrete, Bardwell Lab
  • Akash Rai, Jakob Lab
  • Keerthikka Ravi, Huffnagle Lab
  • Julian Zang, DeDantis Lab

Class of 2019

  • Janakraj Bhattrai, Jakob Lab
  • Liang Chen, Ming Li Lab
  • Jamian Church, Buttitta Lab
  • Jian Guan, Jakob Lab
  • Yijun Gui, Cone Lab
  • Jack Huang, Klionsky Lab
  • Caroline Lowder, Simmons lab
  • Angelic Previero, Dus Lab
  • Tony Yu, Klionsky Lab
  • Cassie Zuckerman, Nandakumar Lab