GSPA May 2022 Newsletter: End-of-Semester Hurrahs and Looking Forward

GSPA May 2022 Newsletter: End-of-Semester Hurrahs and Looking Forward
April 29, 2022

May Newsletter

Greetings from the Biology GSPA! In this monthly newsletter, we're celebrating the many accomplishments from around the Biology Department, announcing May events, and advertising Fall semester courses open to all. 

Biology GSPA Council Nominations

As the 2021-2022 academic year draws to a close, the time has come to select next year's Biology GSPA Council! If you are interested in running for a position or would like to nominate a fellow biologist, please fill out this form. We'll answer questions about the nomination process at the May GSPA meeting and nominees will be informed later this month.

  • Congratulations to Qi Zhang (Ali Güler Lab), who successfully defended her thesis! Her public defense, "Hypothalamic dopamine receptor D1 signaling mediates hedonic feeding-induced obesity," was April 11th
  • Congratulations to Chhavi Sood (Siegrist Lab) on her dissertation defense! Her public presentation, given April 19th, was titled "The role of Notch signaling in regulating neural stem cell quiescence and termination during development." Next up, Chhavi will be starting a postdoc position at MIT.
  • Congratulations to Audrey Brown (Jenny Güler Lab)! She successfully defended her thesis, and her public defense, "Nutrient availability alters metabolism and methods used in the malaria parasite," was held April 21st.
  • Congratulations to Kim Arena (Kucenas Lab) on her recent defense! Her public defense, "Characterization of the cellular and molecular mechanisms that drive perineural glial bridging after spinal motor nerve injury in zebrafish," was April 22nd.
  • Xiaomu Zhang (Danna Lab, defended in March) has had her first manuscript accepted to Plant Physiology. The paper is titled "MAMP-elicited changes in amino acid transport activity contribute to restricting bacterial growth."
  • Louis Bubrig (Gibson Lab; first author), Anne Janisch (Gibson Lab; research tech), and Emily Tillet (Gibson Lab; undergraduate) have a new paper in press at Evolution titled "Contrasting parasite-mediated reductions in fitness within vs. between patches of a nematode host."
  • Caroline Amoroso (Gibson Lab; postdoc) has a paper, "Ecology and evolution of parasite avoidance," in press at Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics 2022.
  • Sarah McPeek (Brodie Lab) has a first-author paper accepted to Evolution titled, "Eco-Evolutionary feedbacks among pollinators, herbivores, and their plant resources."
  • Congratulations to Mandy Gibson, who has been awarded the 2022 Alumni Board of Trustees Teaching Award!
  • Congratulations to Phoebe Cook (Brodie Lab; defended in March), who was awarded the All-University Graduate Teaching Award!
  • Congratulations to Yingnan Gao (Wu Lab), who has been awarded the Distinguished Graduate Teaching Award in STEM!
  • Evan Brown (Kucenas Lab) was awarded the Jefferson Scholars Foundation Dissertation Year Fellowship and a Program in Fundamental Neuroscience (PFN) Travel Award.
  • Andrés Norambuena (Bloom Lab; postdoc) has an article published in Neurobiology of Disease titled "SOD1 mediates lysosome-to-mitochondria communication and its dysregulation by amyloid-β oligomers."
  • Congratulations to Elise Savier (Cang Lab; research associate), who has accepted a research faculty position at the University of Michigan in the Department of Ophthalmology!
  • Congrats to all 2022-2023 EXPAND Fellows: Lillian Dillard (Biomedical Sciences), Lizzie Godschall (Ali Güler & Campbell Labs), Erin Kastar (Psychology), Keric Lamb (Galloway Lab), Sarah McPeek (Brodie Lab), and Connor Murray (Bergland Lab). 

Call for Applications: GSPA Research Awards

The Biology GSPA will be funding small research awards (up to $250) supporting research and work travel opportunities for graduate students and postdocs! 

To apply, please fill out the application linked here. Email your completed application as a single PDF to the GSPA co-presidents (Sarah McPeek and Abbas Ghaddar) by May 15, 2022 at noon. Winners will be notified by email by June 1.

May Events:

GSPA Meeting: Thursday, May 5, 1:00 - 2:00 pm, PLSB 200

Join us for our May public forum meeting! Snacks provided. This month, we will be discussing this year's GSPA work - what changes have been positive, what do we still want to accomplish, and how we would like GSPA to work moving forward. If there are anonymous concerns you would like to share ahead of the meeting, please fill out this form.

End-of-Semester Research Presentations: Wednesday, May 4

  • Human Biology Distinguished Major Capstone Symposium: 8:30am - 1:30pm, Dell 1 Room 105 or via Zoom
  • First Year Biology / Psychology PhD Poster Session: 9:00 - 10:00am, Gilmer 490
  • 38th Annual Richard D. Katz Undergraduate Research Symposium: 1:00 - 3:00pm, Gilmer 390 or via Zoom
  • Undergraduate Poster Session: 4:00 - 5:00pm, Gilmer 490

JEDI Reading Group: Thursday, May 5, 4:00pm, UVA Amphitheater
Join the JEDI Reading Group for a lively discussion of Robin Wall Kimmerer's book Braiding Sweetgrass! Snacks will be provided. To learn more about the group, join the Slack or reach out to Megan Sayyad if you have any questions.

GSPA End-of-Year Picnic: Thursday, May 12, 5:00 - 7:00 pm, Garden X
Come celebrate the end of the year with your fellow biologists! Dinner and drinks will be provided. All are welcome.

Fundamentals of Investing: Wednesday, May 25, 12:00pm, Zoom
Fidelity Investments is offering a class on the fundamentals of investing for Biology graduate students! There will also be the opportunity to schedule a short personal session with a financial counselor. Zoom link to come; email Phoebe Cook for more information.

Biology Outreach & Inclusion Program (BOIP): Monday, May 30, 4:30-5:30 pm, PLSB 200
Learn about ongoing initiatives to get UVA Biology promoting science education in the Charlottesville and greater Albemarle community. Check out their website to learn more, or join the listserv

Friday Seminar: All seminars begin at 12:00 pm

  • May 6: Kristian Forbes, Title TBD (Host: Jenny Güler). Gilmer 390

Recurring Events:
Writing Hour: Monday, 9:00 am - 12:00 pm, Gilmer 430 and Zoom
Devote a few hours per week to writing in the company of your fellow biologists! Open to all grad students, postdocs, and faculty.

Coding Hour: Monday, 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm, PLSB 403
Have a coding problem, or just want some company while you code? A shared workspace for data science and bioinformatics!

Grad Student & Postdoc Lunch Hour: Wednesday, 12:00 - 1:00 pm, PLSB 300
All graduate students and postdocs are invited to come together for lunch! Conversation may be around a particular topic or whatever is on people's minds.

Coffee Hour: Thursday, 2:00 - 3:00 pm, PLSB 4th Floor Lounge
Take a break from your desk for coffee and conversation with your fellow biologists. All are welcome!

Fall 2022 Courses

The courses listed below are a few of the many courses and open to ALL biologists; parentheses indicate target years.

EXPAND Professional Skills Courses
BIOL 8240: Professional Skills for the Life Sciences I , the first of a two-semester course that provides students with the skills to start their scientific careers. (1st year, required for EXPAND Fellows)
GSCI 8500-001: Integrative Studies of the Phenotype, an introductory class that emphasizes the benefits of an integrative and multi-level approach to the study of the phenotype. (1st or 2nd year)
GSCI 8500-003: Career Design for Life Science, a course the specializes in helping students learn about and match their skills/interests with possible jobs, and to develop an individual career plan. (3rd or 4th year)
GSCI 8500-002: Professional Transitions Seminar, a course that helps students develop skills for completing dissertations and prepared them to acquire a job. (4th or 5th year).

EXPAND Quantitative Courses
EVSC 5040: Advanced Ecological Data Analysis, a course that explores the many complex data structures in ecological research.
PSYC 7710: Quantitative Methods I: Probability & Statistical Inference, a course that covers the mathematical foundations of statistical techniques used in the behavioral sciences

Teaching-Focused Courses
CHEM 7011: Teaching Science in Higher Education is a course designed to help GTAs integrate learning theory and effective student engagement practices into their teaching.
UNST 8130: Teaching & Learning in Higher Education is a seminar course that explores the theories and philosophies of higher education. 

Volunteers Needed: Compost Fly Collection

The Bergland Lab is recruiting volunteers for the 2022 fly collection season! Capture evolution in your own backyard by collecting fruit flies from your compost pile. Your compost pile is teaming with life, and fruit flies are an important part of that ecosystem. Over the course of the summer, your pile will be inhabited by about a dozen different fruit fly species. For some of these species, up to 15 generations can pass between the spring and fall. You can help us track the evolutionary dynamics of fruit flies in real-time by collecting and preserving flies from your compost pile! We’ll ask you to collect flies every two weeks over the growing season and into early winter, and then preserve them in ethanol until we pick up your collections. Don’t worry, we’ll give you all of the gear you might need, as well as provide a comprehensive online training. If you’re interested in being a valuable citizen scientist, sign up to be a collector here! Have further questions? Send us a message