Faten Sayed, Jessie Carr, and Alexandra Clemente, members of the Gladstone GO graduate student organization, teamed up to design a week of activities that celebrated graduate students at Gladstone. [Photo: Chris Goodfellow, Gladstone Institutes]


Gladstone celebrated its first Graduate Student Appreciation Week (GSAW) as part of the national initiative to recognize the contributions, impact, and value of graduate students across all disciplines.

“Our graduate students make essential contributions to our scientific research and to the high quality of our overall environment,” shared Gladstone President R. Sanders “Sandy” Williams, MD. “Their creativity and dedication drive advances in science while they are here, and their experiences at Gladstone empower them for high achievement in their future careers.”

The events held during the week were planned and hosted by Gladstone GO, Gladstone’s newly established graduate student organization. Gladstone GO aims to provide mentorship, team-building, and career-building opportunities that complement graduate student’s scientific training at Gladstone. For GSAW, the organization focused on three themes: exploring careers, developing professional skills, and building community.

“We wanted to host events that would not only recognize graduate students, but would also supplement their training at Gladstone,” shared Jessie Carr, member of the Gladstone GO subcommittee that organized the week’s activities. “With help from my fellow graduate students, Faten Sayed and Alexandra Clemente, we developed an array of activities that were valuable to graduate students and the Gladstone community.”

Exploring Careers in Academia, Industry, and More

Early in the week, a panel of Gladstone alumni shared their career paths, experiences, and accomplishments since they completed their training at Gladstone. The panelists included Aram Avila-Herrera, a postdoctoral fellow at Lawrence Livermore National Labs; Nga Bien-Ly, a scientist at Denali Therapeutics; Michael Penn, vice president of Diversity, Outreach, and Mentoring at Gladstone; Karen Ring, website and social media manager at CIRM; Neil Sheehy, a principal at Prescient Healthcare Group; and Jenna Wilson, an associate editor at PLoS One. The panel discussion was followed by a social event, where attendees could continue to share ideas and insights on scientific training at Gladstone and potential career trajectories.

Developing Professional Skills to Influence the Future

Two events focused on enhancing professional skills for the students. During a special seminar, ethics expert Henry T. Greely spoke about the future of human reproduction. He discussed how prospective parents may one day choose embryos based on their genetic makeup, and he explained some of the deep ethical and legal challenges that humanity could face as a result of this seemingly inevitable possibility. This new perspective on the advances of scientific research could influence new scientific approaches and ethical considerations in biomedical research.

Magnetic Speaking conducted an interactive, hands-on workshop to help trainees improve their presentation skills. Magnetic Speaking works to develop engaging and influential leaders around the world. During the workshop, attendees learned the latest tools of public speaking that will help them to become more confident and comfortable in front of groups of people and to articulate their thoughts in a clear and organized manner.

Building Community among Graduate Students and across the Organization

During the week, several events aimed to foster professional relationships across Gladstone, including a kick-off breakfast, a relaxing yoga session, and a graduate student ice-cream social. Importantly, Gladstone GO organized a luncheon that brought together faculty, leadership, and graduate students across Gladstone, providing an avenue for attendees to network, exchange ideas, and share experiences.

“The luncheon provided a great opportunity for graduate students to get to know their peers and have insightful conversations with scientific and professional leaders at Gladstone,” said Oriane Matthys, who co-chairs Gladstone GO with Jessie Butts. “Jessie and I were delighted to see so many members of our community come together to network across the organization.”

The week’s festivities ended with a social event where the entire Gladstone community gathered to recognize and celebrate Gladstone’s graduate students.