By Miranda McDaniel
Each Fall, the Laney Graduate School hosts a STEM Research and Career Symposium welcoming students and faculty from diverse backgrounds to take part in two days of research sharing and networking. The Emory Conference Center buzzed with conversations about science and scholarship as students excitedly discussed their research and future plans.
The event began with a Keynote Address by Dr. Charlie Garnett-Benson. Dr. Garnett-Benson, a tenure-track Associate Professor of Biology at Georgia State University, earned her PhD right here at Emory University from the Immunology and Molecular Pathogenesis Program. On the heels of a successful postdoc at the NIH focusing on tumor immunology and biology, she now spearheads her own research with an emphasis on the role of the immune system in cancer therapy. Dr. Garnett-Benson currently serves as the Director of Research in the Department of Biology at Georgia State.
During her lighthearted Keynote Address, Dr. Garnett-Benson shared her career trajectory and her research endeavors, but perhaps more interestingly, she concluded her speech with “what really keeps her up at night”. Going into her current position, she thought she would be worried about grants and collaborations. In reality, her concerns center more around how she can help bring in the next generation of scientists. To address her concerns in this arena, she took on the role of Early Career Scientist Committee Chair with the Society for the Immunotherapy of Cancer and founded “Beyond the Codon” to provide resources for students interested in careers in the biomedical field. Through her funny, slightly sarcastic delivery and her engaging story-telling, Dr. Garnett-Benson set the tone for the wonderful event to follow.
The next day was filled with student presentations. A large ballroom was filled with colorful posters designed by undergraduates with an eye towards graduate school. Posters were presented by students from all across the country from Rochester University to the University of Arizona. Sprinkled among the research posters were a collection of posters providing information about the STEM organizations, diversity and inclusion initiatives, and research opportunities here at Emory University. The day was filled with overlapping conversations among students and faculty in between oral presentations and topical breakout sessions.
The day concluded with a second Keynote Address from Dr. Jose Antonio Bowen, President of Goucher College, writer of over 100 scholarly articles, editor, musician, and author of Teaching Naked: How Moving Technology Out of Your College Classroom Will Improve Student Learning. As an expert in such a wide variety of subjects, Dr. Bowen is no stranger to the learning process. His experiences uniquely prepared him to speak to attendees about the importance of relationships, resilience, and reflection in the learning process. He spoke about the value of failure and the importance of being open to changing your mind. Beyond just the value of his message, his delivery and stories kept the audience laughing throughout the night.
The next day, several presenters were recognized with awards for outstanding presentations. The list of recipients can be found here:
Judge’s Awards (10):
1st: Imon Islam
2nd: Arren Simpson
3rd: Sarah Mansour
1st: Brittany Williams
2nd: Anisha Lewis
3rd: Elvis Kahoro
The STEM symposium is a particularly impactful event that GDBBS faculty, students, and staff look forward to participating in each year. By providing a stage for students to share their research, strengthen their professional network, and engage with fellow scholars, the symposium helps to connect a diverse group of scientists at different stages in their academic careers. We look forward to our 2019 STEM Symposium and hope to see you there!