Celebrating another year of achievement at the 2015 GDBBS Awards Banquet

Hope Robinson

Originally published November 30, 2015

The Annual GDBBS Awards Banquet provides an opportunity to highlight the accomplishments and contributions of students, both current and alumni, and the faculty of the GDBBS.

The William and Catherine Rice Research Award is an endowment that supports students in the Cancer Biology program of the Laney Graduate School’s Graduate Division of Biological and Biomedical Sciences. This year the award was presented to Scott Wilkinson, who studies cancer metastasis by investigating the effects of LKB1 farnesylation on cell motility.

Lukas Hoffmann was the recipient of the Graduate Program in Biology Academic and Achievement Award. He was recognized for his research on vocal learning in songbirds in addition to his mentorship and grant-writing skills.

The Distinguished Alumnus Award was presented to Dr. Elisabeth Binder who earned her PhD in Neuroscience from Emory in 2000. Her postdoctoral fellowship and psychiatric residency at the Max-Planck Institute of Psychiatry was followed by a return to Emory as an assistant professor where she has maintained her appointment on a part-time basis. Dr. Binder returned to the Max-Planck Institute in 2007 where she was appointed to head the Department for Translational Research in 2013. Her research relating epigenetic mechanisms to mood and anxiety disorders has been widely published in leading journals.  

Each program in the GDBBS selects a Student of the Year

Hailing from locations across the USA from California  to Maryland, this year’s honorees were a diverse and impressive group.   Between them they are supported by ten grants, have published over two dozen manuscripts, hold leadership positions in numerous organizations, and are involved in community outreach programs. As a student, I was inspired and their accomplishments filled me with pride to be part of Emory, the Laney Graduate School, and the GDBBS.

The Graduate Career Award was given to Constance Harrell Shreckengost, NS, MD/PhD, who has published twelve manuscripts (four as first author), been supported by a number of grants and fellowships, and has earned both the GDBBS Neuroscience Scholar and Neuroscience Program Mentorship awards.

GDBBS students are learning to be outstanding teachers as well. The Student Teaching Award was presented to Kameryn Butler, GMB for her work as a student teacher for Introductory Graduate Human Genetics with Dr. Fridovich-Keil. 

Scott Wilkinson, CB, was awarded the Career Teaching Award in recognition of his efforts and many contributions to science education both here at Emory and in community outreach programs. He has provided a Science Day at a local elementary school and developed a Pre-college course about cancer. Additionally, he was awarded an HHMI fellowship and Emory grant to develop and teach an elective course, “The Non-Fiction of Cancer.” Scott has made it a mission to help others understand science in general and the science of cancer specifically.  

Crystal Grant of the GMB program, was this year’s recipient of the Student Leadership Award. She has been involved in the Graduate Student Council, the Emory Science Advocacy Network (EScAN), the Atlanta Science Festival 2015 Curious Corps, and is Treasurer for the Graduate Students in Genetics student group.

The awards for Outreach/Community Service and Student Mentor were both presented to Annie McPherson, GMB. As president of the GMB Outreach for Teaching Science (GOT Science) and in partnership with Graduation Generation, she oversaw nine hands-on science activity sessions for elementary school students, specifically targeting underrepresented and/or disadvantaged students. In addition to these activities, Annie has taken advantage of every opportunity to teach while a graduate student, teaching three undergraduate Biology Laboratory courses and has mentored numerous students in her dissertation lab. Annie is also an advocate of homeless animals, volunteering at events and serving as a foster parent for Georgia Homeless Pets.

The Graduate Division of Biological and Biomedical Sciences is fortunate to have outstanding faculty members. Each year one of these members is awarded the Faculty Mentor Award. This year’s recipient was Malu Tansey, PhD. Those nominating her spoke about her dedication to science research, but also to the development and long-term well-being of her students, saying she “…never shies away from letting her trainees take the spotlight…” and that “…she cares about mentees’ career, personal life, and accomplishments…” Another said, “I have found her to be brilliant, brave, and engaging, relentlessly enthusiastic, and a fountain of creativity.” By all accounts, Dr. Tansey is one of Emory’s best.