The annual Graduates in Neuroscience (GIN) Awards ceremony is an opportunity to dress black-tie and celebrate students and faculty alike, and the perfect way to end another long academic year. Each year, members of our Neuroscience Community are recognized for outstanding achievements in scholarship, research and service. This year’s event was a great success, with fantastic food, libations, and even a photo booth!
Scientific Outreach: Lyndie Wood
Lyndie repeatedly demonstrates her love for scientific outreach. She is about to complete her term as Student Representative of the Atlanta Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience, during which time she has organized a Classroom Matching Program which connects local scientists and teachers for outreach opportunities. This amazing program has reached 50 local classrooms, helping teach more than 4,000 students! Additionally, she visits the Atlanta Children’s Shelter to teach homeless preschoolers in their summer program. If that isn’t enough to keep her busy, Lyndie is also working on creating neuroscience teaching materials and lesson plans for students and she teaches a week-long neuroscience module for 7th grade students. Lyndie clearly values scientific outreach and promotes positive change in our local communities.
University Service: Mary Herrick
Mary has repeatedly demonstrated her commitment to giving back to her Emory community. She was elected GSGA Executive Vice President, the second highest graduate position on Emory’s campus. She was instrumental in “restructuring SGA to allow GSGA to act as an autonomous body.” In addition, she served as Secretary of the LGSC. She is now President of LGSC for the 2018-2019 academic year, where she hopes to continue to give back to her community at Emory. She has improved our university during her time at Emory and is extremely deserving of the University Service Award this year!
Leadership: Archana Venkataraman
Archana has demonstrated her leadership skills repeatedly as President of GIN. Archana’s positive attitude and willingness to get involved sets her apart as a leader. As president, she has helped organize retreat, promote GIN events, and is truly invested in “fostering a strong sense of community within our program”. She has served as Frontiers Coordinator, as Neuroscience Graduate Student Representative, and helped organize the Neurobuddy Program. We look forward to the improvements she and her co-president will bring about in the coming year!
Outstanding Early Scientific Achievement: Dan Li
Dan, an MD/PhD student, has taken the Neuroscience Program by storm. He has already published four papers with another in submission and yet another in preparation! In addition, Dan submitted an NRSA F30 to NIMH that was funded upon first submission, with an incredible 6th percentile score.
Outstanding Scientific Achievement: Elizabeth Barfield
Liz’s outstanding scientific achievement started early in her graduate career, when she was awarded the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship in 2015. This past winter alone, she published a first-author paper in the high impact journal ,Plos Biology and another in Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience! More recently, she submitted a whopping 17,000 word review paper! In total, she has published five manuscripts, presented ten posters and given seven oral presentations. Liz also presented at Frontiers this Spring, one of the highest honors in the Neuroscience Program. She is clearly very deserving of the Outstanding Scientific Achievement Award!
Excellence in Teaching: Rachel Cliburn Branco
Rachel has demonstrated her love for teaching repeatedly during her time at Emory. She has served as teaching staff and Teacher’s Assistant for several courses at Emory and the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. Rachel was also Teaching Assistant for two Emory Neuroscience in Paris study abroad trips! Additionally, she has designed and implemented two courses: “Drugs and Society” and “Neuroscience and Literature”. Her many accomplishments make her extremely deserving of the Excellence in Teaching award this year!
Excellence in Mentorship: Maria Briscione-Vizza
Maria was my student mentor when I started my first rotation in Dr. Ellen Hess’ lab; thus, it is no surprise to me that she won the award for excellence in mentorship. Maria has mentored nine students during her time as a PhD student. She shares her passion for science, teaches her students the realities of research, and has facilitated presentations via a Junior Journal Club to engage students in the larger questions of research. Maria recognizes the importance of a mentor in molding budding scientists and has always strived to enhance the student-lab experience.
GIN Student Service: Erin King
Although she was not a member of GIN, Erin has clearly demonstrated her support for the Neuroscience program by going out of her way to assist with recruitment. Additionally, she has played a critical role in setting up and organizing the recruitment poster sessions. She is very much deserving of this service award. We can’t wait to see how Erin continues to improve the Neuroscience Program as she begins her term as President of GIN!
GIN Faculty of the Year: Sam Sober, Ph.D
Dr. Sam Sober is extremely committed to the students in the Neuroscience Program. Not only does he have a spectacular lab, but he also teaches several classes in IBS 526, for which he received Exemplary Lecturer of the Year Award in 2016. In addition to his lab and teaching, Dr. Sober has been a champion of the neuroscience students, promoting transparency between faculty and students. He has been a major force for positive change. We look forward to working with Dr. Sober to improve our program further!
GIN Exemplary Lecturer: Randy Hall, Ph.D
Every lecturer brings something new to the class, whether it is their novel teaching method, dynamic personality or entertaining anecdotes. Dr. Randy Hall stands out from this crowd. Randy has a dynamic personality and many entertaining anecdotes that add color to his classes. His IBS514 module was clear and concise, his lecturing style engaging and his excitement for the material contagious. His emphasis on taking class content one step further to test the boundaries of our understanding is what sets him apart as a lecturer, and he certainly deserved this year’s Exemplary Lecturer of the Year Award
Director’s Award for Extraordinary Leadership: Elizabeth Hinton & Lyndie Wood
This special award goes to students who have demonstrated extraordinary and outstanding leadership. Both Libby and Lyndie are more than deserving of this award. The sentiment is shared, as they received a standing ovation as they approached the stage to collect their award. This year alone, the pair were responsible for organizing two Town Hall meetings. They have advocated for improving policies and increasing awareness among all people involved in the neuroscience program, working to improve transparency between faculty and students. Theyalso established the Peer Liaison position in GIN. Their overall commitment to causing positive change and improving our program is extremely admirable.
Calabrese/Smith Neuroscience Service Award: David Weinshenker, Ph.D
Dr. David Weinshenker has served as Director of the Neuroscience program for the past three years and has consistently advocated for his students during this time. His ability to be a phenomenal mentor, professor and program director are certainly the reason he is the recipient of the Neuroscience Service Award.
The students and faculty who received this year’s GIN Awards were extremely impressive in not only academics but also university service. Each person has contributed something unique to our program. Congratulations, winners!
Author: Trisha Lala
Editors: Simone Campbell & Kristie Garza
Photography by: Zibby Hinton