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Graduate Student and Postdoctoral Awards

Armstrong Faculty Transition Award

2020 Winner — Kevin Lang (Merrikh Lab)

 

 

 

 

 

Established in 2018, the Armstrong Faculty Transition Award from the Department of Biochemistry allots funding to one PostDoctoral Fellow of exceptional promise and leadership skill. It is expected that this Awardee will use the funding to foster transition into a faculty position, conducting research independent from their current lab’s mentorship, while establishing themselves and their future lab. We request that Awardees acknowledge this funding source on resultant publications. Interviews (domestic and/or international) for independent faculty positions will occur while funded. All nominations are evaluated by a committee of senior Biochemistry Faculty members. Winners receive Departmental recognition, a commemorative plaque, and funding toward their transition into a faculty role.  Previous Armstrong Faculty Transition Award Recipients

 

Armstrong-Morgenstern Travel Award

2020 Winner – Olivia Luige (Karolinska Institute)

Established in 2016 at the request of Armstrong Family, this annual award will be granted to an outstanding postdoctoral trainee or an exceptionally advanced graduate student to support a training experience at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, or for a Vanderbilt laboratory to host a student from the Karolinska (in alternating years). Named in honor of the late Dr. Richard Armstrong, Professor of Biochemistry and Chemistry at Vanderbilt University and Foreign Adjunct Professor at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden. The research of Dr. Armstrong focused on how enzymes detoxify foreign molecules through a multipronged chemical, structural, and molecular approach. His work as a teacher, scholar, and advisor were instrumental in expertly guiding students though the rigors of Chemistry and Biochemistry. He emphasized fundamentals through his numerous lectures and selflessly served the Biochemistry community through teaching, committee membership, grant reviews, and participation in professional societies. The winner will be determined via an appointed selection committee and will alternate between institutions (Vanderbilt or Karolinska).  Previous Armstrong-Morgenstern Travel Award Recipients

To nominate a postdoctoral trainee or graduate student for consideration of this award, please submit all materials directly to Jen Smith at j.l.smith@vanderbilt.edu

Please note:

  • Requires a passport for international travel.
  • Travel/Study should occur within one year of award decision.
  • The 2019 recipient will be chosen from Vanderbilt University to visit/work at The Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, via Dr. Morgenstern. (Nomination cycle is shared with Karolinska)

Please include the following:

  • One letter of interest for the nomination, which should include proposed lab of study and a project
  • One letter of support from the nominee’s advisor
  • CV of the nominee
  • One letter of support from a hosting Karolinska lab accepting nominee as a possible award recipient and agreeing upon a suggested project/plan of action (Optional but highly suggested)

Award: commemorative plaque and a travel allowance of up to $5000.00, courtesy of the Richard Armstrong Fund.

 

Frank Chytil Travel Award

Nominations open until December 31

2022 Winner – Jessica Collins (Osheroff lab)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2022 Winner – Steven Walker (Olivares lab)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. Chytil was a Distinguished Emeritus Professor of Biochemistry at Vanderbilt University. His research concentrated on Vitamin A metabolism and spanned more than 30 years. Born in Czechoslovakia, he and his wife Lucie and their children immigrated to the USA in 1966. Living through Nazi occupation and communism in his home country gave Dr. Chytil a unique appreciation for the freedom and life experience that may be gained via traveling the world. It was his great wish to support and provide for the education of our students; his firm belief was that a travel scholarship would allow our students the opportunity to stretch their knowledge and be involved within varied scientific circles to best develop into independent researchers. In memory of Dr. Frank Chytil, his family established this travel award in 2010.

To nominate a student for consideration for this award, please submit all materials directly to Jen Smith at j.l.smith@vanderbilt.edu

Please include the following:

  • Provide a brief write-up explaining what meeting that you propose to attend, where the meeting will be held, and how you will participate in that meeting. The meeting may take place any time within the next year and may be within the USA or abroad (which will require a passport).
  • Provide an abstract that has been accepted for a poster or oral presentation at the proposed meeting.
  • Provide written acknowledgment of permission from your advisor that they approve of the meeting attendance.
  • Provide an updated CV.
  • Combine these documents into ONE SINGLE PDF FILE for submission.

Upon receipt of all applications, a three-member committee appointed by our DGS and Department Chair will evaluate the candidate proposals. The strength of the student’s abstract and their academic standing will be factors for consideration. Best of luck for a bon voyage!

Award: commemorative plaque, name added to the Department’s perpetual plaque, and a travel allowance of up to $1000.00, courtesy of the Chytil Fund.

John G. Coniglio Award

Nominations open annually January 1-March 1

2021 Co-Winner – Petria Thompson (Cortez Lab)

 

 

 

 

2021 Co-Winner – Andy Hale (York Lab)

 

 

 

 

 

This medical student award was established upon the retirement of Dr. Coniglio in 1990 to honor his many years of outstanding service to the Department and his leadership in the field of medical student education. The award is presented annually to the graduating medical student(s)….“who has distinguished him/herself in biochemistry. Both accomplishments in biochemical research and biochemistry courses are considered in evaluating candidates for this award.”  Previous John C. Coniglio Award Recipients

To nominate a student for consideration for this award, please submit all materials directly to Neil Osheroff at neil.osheroff@vanderbilt.edu.

Please include the following:

  • One letter of support with rationale for the nomination

Starting in January, we welcome and solicit nominations for the annual John G. Coniglio Prize in Biochemistry. This medical student award was established upon the retirement of Dr. Coniglio in 1990 to honor his many years of outstanding service to the Department and his leadership in the field of medical student education. The award is presented annually to the graduating medical student(s)….“who has distinguished him/herself in biochemistry. Both accomplishments in biochemical research and biochemistry courses are considered in evaluating candidates for this award.”

In order for a student to be considered for the John G. Coniglio Prize in Biochemistry, he/she must be nominated by a member of the Biochemistry faculty. Therefore, if there is a graduating M.D. or M.D./Ph.D. candidate whom you feel deserves consideration for the award, please send me a letter of recommendation on his/her behalf. The letter need not be extensive, but should make clear the reasons for the student’s nomination. Because the medical school requires the names of award winners well in advance of commencement, please send all letters directly to Neil Osheroff no later than March 1. Electronic submissions are preferred. Final candidates for the John G. Coniglio Prize in Biochemistry will be recommended to the Departmental Chair for final approval.

If you have questions regarding the students who are graduating this year, please do not hesitate to contact me. Your assistance in identifying an outstanding candidate for this award is greatly appreciated.

Award: commemorative plaque, name added to the Department’s perpetual plaque, and a cash award courtesy of the Coniglio Memorial fund.

Laura Busenlehner Award for Outstanding Leadership & Research

Nominations open until December 1st

2022 Winner – Pratibha Ghodke (Guengerich lab)

 

 

 

 

 

This award was established in 2017 at the request of the family of Professor Richard Armstrong and is supported by the fund set up in his name. The Dr. Laura Busenlehner Award is designed to honor an outstanding postdoctoral trainee or an exceptionally advanced student whose discovery science and curiosity-driven research stands out among our excellent trainees. Dr. Busenlehner did her post-doctorate work at Vanderbilt from 2003 to 2007 in the Armstrong Lab. She went on to be an Assistant Professor at the University of Alabama in 2007, an NIH career award winner in 2009, and was named a distinguished Teacher Fellow in 2014, which is also the year in which she became a tenured Associate Professor. Regrettably, this bright scientist passed away in November of 2014. At that time, one of her students named Erin Hein stated that Dr. Busenlehner “really pressed women in science and motivated me throughout my research.” Her studies focused on the inorganic chemistry, biochemistry, and biophysical characterization of the Frataxin protein, deciphering its role in the neurodegenerative disease Friedrich’s Ataxia. The winner will be determined via an appointed selection committee.  Previous Laura Busenlehner Award Recipients

To nominate a postdoctoral trainee or exceptionally advanced graduate student for consideration of this award, please submit all materials directly to Jen Smith at j.l.smith@vanderbilt.edu

Please include the following:

  • One letter of support with rationale for the nomination
  • CV of the nominee

Award: individual commemorative plaque and a cash award courtesy of the Richard Armstrong Fund; winners are typically announced at the Departmental BSA Retreat and give a subsequent 20-minute presentation.

Leon W. Cunningham Award for Excellence in Biochemistry

Nominations open until December 31

2022 Graduate Student Winner – Alexandria Oviatt (Osheroff Lab)

 

 

 

 

 

The Leon W. Cunningham Award is given annually to a graduate student in the Biochemistry graduate program who shares Leon’s commitment to excellence in scientific discovery.  Previous Leon W. Cunningham Award Recipients

To nominate one of your Graduate students for consideration for this award, please submit all materials for the awards committee directly to Jen Smith at j.l.smith@vanderbilt.edu.

Please include the following:

  • One letter of support with rationale for the nomination
  • CV of the nominee

We are now accepting applications for the annual Leon W. Cunningham Graduate Student Award. This award is given annually to a student in the Biochemistry graduate program who shares Leon’s commitment to excellence in scientific discovery. The awardee is usually an upper level student with a solid publication record, but there are no formal requirements. After all of the submissions have been collected, a committee of faculty members will be formed to select an awardee. The graduate student awardee will be publicly announced at the BSA/BCHM Retreat. The award winner will be privately notified beforehand and should plan to present a 20-minute talk at the Retreat.

Award: commemorative plaque, name added to the Department’s perpetual plaque, and a cash award courtesy of the Cunningham Fund; winners are typically announced at the Departmental BSA Retreat and give a subsequent 20-minute presentation.

Michael Waterman Outstanding Achievement in Postdoctoral Studies

Nominations open until December 31

2022 Inaugural Winner: Madison Adolph (Cortez lab)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This award, established in 2021 honors the outstanding achievement of a postdoctoral fellow in Biochemistry. The winner will have made an important research discovery as evidenced by a publication within the past year. Other evidence for research impact will also be considered. The award is named for Michael R. Waterman, Ph.D., Natalie Overall Warren Professor and Chair of the Department of Biochemistry from 1992-2010. His leadership skills at Vanderbilt were characterized by his calm and thoughtful approach to the management of the Biochemistry department and advocacy for faculty needs. The Department expanded significantly and thrived under his direction. Dr. Waterman’s research was focused on cytochrome P450 enzymes and related proteins. It led to a better understanding of processes underlying hormonal disturbances and provides the basis for developing better anti-fungal drugs, defining the potential roles of steroid metabolism in the control of human parasites, and many other issues of clinical importance. He mentored 12 Ph.D. candidates and more than 50 postdoctoral research fellows. This award recognizes his commitment to postdoctoral training and the Vanderbilt Department of Biochemistry.

Award: commemorative plaque, name added to the Department’s perpetual plaque, and a cash award; winners are typically announced at the Departmental Retreat and are expected to give a 20-minute presentation on their research.

To nominate one of your Postdoctoral research fellows for consideration for this award, please submit all materials for the awards committee directly to Jen Smith at j.l.smith@vanderbilt.edu

Please include the following:

  • One letter of support with rationale for the nomination
  • CV of the nominee
  • A reprint of the candidate’s best paper published from your laboratory in the past year.

We are now soliciting nominations for the annual Waterman Postdoctoral award. We will assemble a small committee to review. The Post-Doctoral Fellow awardee will be publicly revealed at the BSA/BCHM Retreat. The award winner will be privately notified beforehand and should plan to present a 20-minute talk at the Retreat.

Richard Armstrong Mentoring Award

Lawrence J. Marnett, Dean, School of Medicine Basic Sciences

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Established in 2016, this annual award will be granted to a Vanderbilt Biochemistry-affiliated faculty member whose commitment and excellence in student or post-doctoral training is exemplary. Named in honor of the late Dr. Richard Armstrong, Professor of Biochemistry and Chemistry at Vanderbilt University and Foreign Adjunct Professor at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden. The research of Dr. Armstrong focused on how enzymes detoxify foreign molecules through a multipronged chemical, structural, and molecular approach. As an editor of the journal Biochemistry, Richard fostered the dissemination of shared scientific knowledge. His work as a teacher, scholar, and advisor were instrumental in expertly guiding students though the rigors of Chemistry and Biochemistry. He emphasized fundamentals through his numerous lectures and selflessly served the Biochemistry community through teaching, committee membership, grant reviews, and participation in professional societies. He was also fond of teaching his young relatives to fish.

To nominate a peer faculty member for consideration of this award, please submit all materials directly to Jen Smith at j.l.smith@vanderbilt.edu

Please include the following:

  • Provide a nomination letter detailing how a peer colleague exemplifies a commitment to excellence in student or post-doctoral training.
  • Additional letters of support are encouraged, but are optional (from graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, or peer colleagues).
  • Jen Smith will secure an updated CV from the candidates.

The winner will be determined via an appointed selection committee. Past awardees have presented a Frontiers in Biochemistry Seminar, incorporating topics of mentorship.

Award: commemorative plaque, name added to a Departmental perpetual plaque, and a $2500 cash award courtesy of the Richard Armstrong Fund.

Other Awards

2022 Anne Karpay Award in Structural Biology

Noah Bradley (Eichman lab)

The Karpay Award was established in 2010 to honor the memory of Dr. Anne Karpay who died after a four-year battle with breast cancer. It recognizes one senior graduate student who is a well-rounded colleague and scientist, who is collaborative and collegial, and who has performed exceptional research in the field of structural biology. Dr. Karpay exemplified each characteristic and demonstrated a passion for science, for friendship and for life.

For more information about the award, please visit the CSB website.

2022 Biochemistry Retreat Poster Winners

Best Poster: Tyler Hansen (Hodges lab, left) and Honorable Mention: Tata Kavlashvili (Cortez lab, right)

 

 

 

 

2022 Graduate School Endowment Awards

Noah Bradley (Eichman lab) is a 2022 recipient of the Edward Ferguson Jr. Graduate Award, which provides scholarships to support students at the Graduate School who demonstrate excellence in research.

 

 

 

2022 VICC Postdoctoral Scholar of the Year Award

Kavi Mehta (Cortez Lab) was recognized at the annual Biochemistry Retreat in Chattanooga with the Vanderbilt Ingram Cancer Center Postdoctoral Scholar of the year. Congratulations, Kavi!

 

 

 

 

2021 Inaugural Award, Excellence in Podcasting

Congratulations Nicole Kendrick (Olivares Lab)and Natalie Wallace (Jackson Lab), first-place winner “Graduate and professional students“: “How Real is Silicon-based Life?”

Vanderbilt University’s first-ever Excellence in Podcasting competition was held in spring 2021. Awards were presented in July to the students whose podcast submissions exemplified the goals of the competition: using audio storytelling to communicate ideas, share perspectives, make arguments and persuade others. Undergraduate, graduate and professional students were invited to participate. Original audio pieces produced in the past year with some critical or creative storytelling were accepted.

2021 Anne Karpay Award in Structural Biology

Congratulations to James Hutchison (Sanders Lab) for being selected the 2021 recipient of The Anne Karpay Award in Structural Biology. James was chosen for his ability to perform outstanding research and for his collegiality and willingness to engage those around him. James will present the MBTP/CSB Seminar on January 19, 2021, via Zoom.

 

 

2020 Levi Watkins Jr. Student Award

Kudos to our newest Levi Watkins, Jr. Student Awardee, Geena Ildefonso (CPB, Quaranta Lab) for fostering a diverse environment that is encouraging to all. Way to go!

 

 

 

 

2020 Sidney Colowick Award

Congratulations Michael Sheedlo, Ph.D. (Lacy Lab), one of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology’s 2020 Sidney Colowick Awardees!

 

 

 

 

2020 Human Islet Research Network Scholarship

We have a winner! Angela Kruse, Ph.D. (Caprioli Lab) received one of only nine nationally awarded scholarships from the 2020 Human Islet Research Network.

 

 

 

 

 

2020 Dean’s Award for Exceptional Achievement for Advanced Students

2020 Winner: Sarah M. Glass, Guengerich Lab, Biochemistry Dept.

Established in 2018, the Dean’s Award for Exceptional Achievement is a highly competitive annual award recognizing top graduate students from across the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine’s great breadth of research study. Awardee applications must contain a strong nomination from their mentor and are evaluated by a full committee of Directors of Graduate Studies from the various School of Medicine-affiliated Ph.D. programs. Criteria include originality and significance of dissertation research, excellence in research discovery, and mastery of their discipline as reflected by academic performance metrics. Along with honorific recognition, the Dean’s Award for Exceptional Achievement is accompanied by a salary supplement of $5000 for up to two years, as the awardee works toward Ph.D. completion.

We congratulate the winner of this prestigious award! Additionally, we commend the strength of our Biochemistry-affiliated Faculty serving as mentors encouraging the future leaders of our scientific fields.

2020 Anne Karpay Award in Structural Biology

Justin Marinko (Sanders Lab), selected the 2020 recipient of The Anne Karpay Award in Structural Biology.

The Karpay Award in Structural Biology was established in 2010 to honor the memory of Dr. Anne Karpay. Each year the award recognizes one senior graduate student who is a well-rounded colleague and scientist, who is collaborative and collegial, and who has performed exceptional research in structural biology. The winner then presents a research talk as part of the award ceremony. Read More

 

2020 Graduate School Travel Award Recipients

 Kathryn Brewer (Sanders Lab)

 

 

 

 

2019 Russell G. Hamilton Graduate Leadership Institute Dissertation Enhancement Grant

Justin Marinko (Sanders Lab) is this year’s recipient of the Vanderbilt University 2019 Russell G. Hamilton Graduate Leadership Institute Dissertation Enhancement Grant

This award was established to support graduate students with outstanding potential in accelerating progress on their research, adding depth or breadth to their dissertation work. Read more about the Institute’s mission and objectives here. Award established as of Fall 2018, details available here. Learn more about the Institute’s namesake, Russell G. Hamilton, here.

 

2019 Russell G. Hamilton Graduate Leadership Institute Travel Award

Sarah Arcos (Ascano Lab) is this year’s recipient of the Russell G. Hamilton Graduate Leadership Institute Travel Award.

This travel grant  provides support for graduate students seeking to further develop their academic and professional skills beyond the traditional realm of presenting research findings in a conference setting. Read more about the Institute’s mission and objectives here. Award established as of Fall 2018, details available here. Learn more about the Institute’s namesake, Russell G. Hamilton, here.

 

2019 Dean’s Award for Exceptional Achievement for Advanced Students

Manuel Castro (Sanders Lab, top row, second-from-left in this photo), 2019 Dean’s Award for Exceptional Achievement for Advanced Students.  This honor is bestowed upon third-year Ph.D. students in the School of Medicine whose research is original, significant, and rigorous; who have demonstrated excellence in research discovery; and who have mastered a discipline, as evidenced by classwork, qualifying exam, and performance in committee meetings.

 

2018 Vanderbilt Prize Scholar

 

Katherine Rothamel (Ascano Lab), 2018 Vanderbilt Prize Scholar. Shown here with (L-R) Jennifer Pietenpol, Vanderbilt Prize Winner and mentor Lynne Maquat, Katherine Rothamel, and Larry Marnett

 

 

 

2017 AAPS Foundation Fellowship

Gibson_Elizabeth_web.jpgElizabeth Gibson, a third year student in the Neil Osheroff Lab, has been awarded the 2017 AAPS Foundation Fellowship for her work on antibacterial-drug-resistant TB.
Read more

 

 

 

Christopher C. Harris Travel Award for Graduate Students

Goodman_Marnett_2017.jpgMichael Goodman was a member of the Richard Armstrong Lab in Biochemistry and is now in the Larry Marnett Lab, affiliated with the Department of Chemistry. He is the recipient of the 2017 Christopher C. Harris Travel Award for Graduate Students. Sponsored by the Eicosanoid Research Foundation, the award was presented at a conference in Mexico on Bioactive Lipids in Cancer, Inflammation and Related Diseases. Christopher Harris was dedicated administrator for the Department of Pathology at Wayne State University. Chris was a talented entrepreneur, remarkable organizer, fundraiser and meeting planner. He had a gift for bringing individuals together and making friends around the world. He was the exclusive meeting organizer for the very successful international conference on Bioactive Lipids in Cancer, Inflammation and Related Diseases which showcases the cutting edge of science on the role of lipid mediators in various physiological and pathological processes. Chris managed these conferences starting in Chicago (2003), San Francisco (2005), Montreal (2007), Cancun (2009), Seattle (2011), San Juan (2013), and Budapest (2015). The 2017 meeting in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, is dedicated in honor of Chris Harris.

2017 Levi Watkins Jr. Student Award

Gletten_Romell_2.jpgCongratulations to Romell Gletten for receiving the 2017 Levi Watkins Jr. Student Award, presented annually to at least one graduate student and one medical student associated with Vanderbilt University School of Medicine who have made outstanding contributions to the institution by fostering a more diverse environment that is enriching, encouraging and embracing of all VUSM students, faculty and administration. Levi Watkins Jr., M.D., is remembered for his significant contributions toward increasing opportunities for underrepresented minorities in the sciences. A distinguished physician and researcher, Watkins was the first African American student to be admitted to and graduate from VUSM. A member of the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society, he continued his training at Johns Hopkins and Harvard. Watkins was posthumously awarded the VUSM Distinguished Alumni Award in October 2016.

2017 VICC Graduate Students of the Year

Bhat_Shave_Mullins.jpgKamakoti “Kami” Prakash Bhat (Cortez Lab) and Tim Shaver (Pietenpol Lab) were named 2017 VICC Graduate Students of the YearElwood Mullins (Eichman Lab) was named the VICC Postdoctoral Fellow of the Year

 

 

F99/K00 Predoctoral-to-Postdoctoral Fellow Transition Award

Bhat_Kami-Prakash.jpgKami Prakash Bhat (Cortez Lab) is the first Vanderbilt student to win an F99/K00 predoctoral-to-postdoctoral fellow transition award from the NCI.

 

 

 

 

Spanish Language Fellow

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Lorena Infante Lara, a 4th year graduate student from Neil Osheroff’s lab, was named a Spanish Language Fellow in the AAAS Mass Media Science and Engineering Fellows Program. This program assigns fellows to media sites throughout the U.S. during the summer, where they work to research, write, and report science to the general public. Lorena will be communicating with primarily Latino audiences as she writes articles for Univisión Salud (Health) in Miami, FL.

 

 

2015 Vanderbilt Prize Scholar

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Lisa Poole of the Cortez Lab was named as the 2015 Vanderbilt Prize Scholar. This very prestigious award gives Lisa direct mentorship by Vanderbilt Prize Lecturer Dr. Huda Zoghbi (a National Academy of Sciences member and accomplished scientist). We are proud of our outgoing BSA president. Read more.

 

Chemical Society’s Division of Chemical Toxicology Poster Winner

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Jeannie Camarillo received a 2014 1st Place Poster Presentation award during the American Chemical Society’s Division of Chemical Toxicology meeting (San Francisco) as well as an award for her Vanderbilt Institute of Chemical Biology Student Research Symposium poster. Jeannie is also the recipient of the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Individual Predoctoral Fellowship (F31) grant.

 

 

2011 Vanderbilt Prize Scholar & Dr. Titia de Lange, the Vanderbilt Prize Winner

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Bianca Sirbu (left) selected as the
2011 Vanderbilt Prize Scholar and
Dr. Titia de Lange, the Vanderbilt Prize Winner.