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ASPIRE to Connect 2018

A2C 2018 Image.jpg

ASPIRE to Connect is a half day workshop aimed at building professional relationships. Gain practical tips and learn techniques to meet new people and cultivate authentic professional connections.

Only once per year does this workshop occur, and we are excited to provide it again for the fifth year in a row! Details for this popular event:

5th Annual ASPIRE to Connect

Monday, March 12, 2018


Practice Networking Reception to follow with wine, cheese, and many raffle prizes!

Student Life Center

This event has already occurred. To review the event’s handouts, please visit the Vanderbilt Box ASPIRE to Connect 2018 folder.

We are excited to welcome keynote speaker Dan Beaudry, Vanderbilt alumnus and author of Power Ties. There will also be a number of breakout session topics including:

  • Big Help for Small Talk
  • Leveraging LinkedIn
  • The Art of the Follow-Up
  • Acing the Video Interview
  • How to Make the Most of a Professional Conference (STEM-focused faculty panel and a Humanities and Social Sciences-focused faculty panel)
  • International Student Deep Dive: Making Connections, VISA Sponsorship, and Your Questions with Dan Beaudry

…and more!

Co-sponsored by the BRET Office of Career Development and the Graduate School.
This program is in part funded by an NIH BEST grant, DP7OD018423.



Session Title




Student Life Center (SLC) lobby


Welcome and Introduction

Dan Beaudry: “The Power of Connections for the Job Search and Beyond”

SLC, Ballrooms A&B


Breakout Session 1 options:

  • Big Help for Small Talk with Ruth Schemmer, PhD
  • Video Interviewing with Kathy Gould, PhD
  • Leveraging LinkedIn with Kim Petrie, PhD

SLC, Ballrooms A&B, Board of Trust, Downstairs 1&2


Breakout Session 2 options:

  • The Art of the Follow up with Ashley Brady, PhD
  • STEM-focused “How to Make the Most of a Professional Conference” Faculty Panel
  • Humanities and Social Sciences focused “How to Make the Most of a Professional Conference” Faculty Panel

SLC, Ballrooms A&B, Board of Trust, Downstairs 1&2


Breakout Session 3 options:

  • International Student Deep Dive: Making Connections, VISA Sponsorship, and Your Questions with Dan Beaudry
  • Telling the Story of Your Research with Leah Lowe, PhD
  • Science and Social Media with Josh Fessel, MD, PhD

SLC, Ballrooms A&B, Board of Trust, Downstairs 1&2


Networking Reception

SLC Ballroom C and Veranda

Breakout Sessions

Breakout Sessions offered at ASPIRE to Connect 2018 include the following options. You may attend three. 

“Big Help for Small Talk”
Ruth Schemmer, PhD, Assistant Dean, Career Development, Vanderbilt University Graduate School

This workshop is aimed at helping students and postdocs learn how to carry on social conversations and talk with networking contacts and potential employers outside the formal interview setting.

“Video Interviewing”
Kathy Gould, PhD, Louise B. McGavock Professor, Department of Cell and Developmental Biology and Associate Dean for Biomedical Sciences

One of the current trends in the application process for industry positions is to use video interviewing. Currently, business, science, and technology companies are using video interviews as the first step in the interviewing process.  According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) 2016 Recruiting Trends report, there has been a 50 % increase in the use of video interviewing in the past year, which means encountering one of these in your job search is increasingly highly likely. (OITE Careers Blog).  Join Kathy Gould, PhD, as she discusses the different types of common video interviews, why companies are doing them, what some major pitfalls are in doing one and how you can avoid these and make the best impression possible.

“Leveraging LinkedIn”
Kim Petrie, PhD, Assistant Dean, BRET Office of Career Development, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine

Come discover why LinkedIn is the social media tool of choice for over 250 million professionals around the world! In this session, you’ll learn how LinkedIn can help you create a professional online presence, build your professional network, explore career paths, research companies and industries, and find job opportunities.

“The Art of the Follow Up or: I Met Somebody New, Now What?”
Ashley Brady, PhD, Director of Career Engagement and Strategic Partnerships, BRET Office of Career Development, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine

You may be thinking, “Sure, I’m not so bad at networking and meeting new people, but what do I do after I meet them?”  In this session we will talk about what you can do after that initial meeting to move the relationship forward without feeling phony or being too pushy.  We will discuss strategies for appropriate, timely follow-up, identify useful tools that are available to you, and explore ways to maintain and strengthen relationships over time.

“How to Make the Most of Professional Conferences”(2 Panels)
Vanderbilt University faculty from various disciplines in two sessions offered based on discipline

STEM-discipline faculty include:

Ray Blind, PhD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Diabetes, Endocrinology, & Metabolism, Assistant Professor of Biochemistry, Assistant Professor of Pharmacology
Jonathan Irish, PhD, Assistant Professor of Cell & Developmental Biology, Assistant Professor of Pathology, Microbiology, & Immunology, Scientific Director, Cancer & Immunology Core (CIC), Mass Cytometry Center of Excellence (MCCE)
​Marija Zanic, PhD, Assistant Professor of Cell & Developmental Biology, Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Humanities and Social Sciences-discipline faculty include:

Celso Castilho, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of History
Catesby Yant, PhD, Seniro Lecturer, Department of Anthropology and Assistant Director, CAS Pre-major Academic Advising

Professional conferences offer excellent opportunities to showcase your work AND develop new connections and relationships that can help you in your research, training, and career search. In this panel discussion, VU faculty will share their approach to preparing for professional conferences and provide advice for making the most of conference activities.

“International Student Deep Dive: Making Connections, VISA Sponsorship, and Your Questions”
Dan Beaudry, keynote speaker, author of Power Ties: The International Student’s Guide to Finding a Job in the United States

“Telling the Story of Your Research”
Leah Lowe, PhD, Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Theatre

“So, what do you do?” is a common conversation starter between new acquaintances. As researchers, we sometimes struggle to answer this question in an engaging way, especially if we are talking to people outside our field, or outside the academy. In this interactive session, Dr. Leah Lowe of the Theatre Department will teach narrative and storytelling techniques to help us engage listeners about what we do professionally. Participants will practice creating and sharing their own research stories. Whether you’re speaking to one person or one hundred, the practical strategies you learn in this session will help you make the most of any future conversation about what you do.

*Please bring a pencil/pen and a pad of paper to this session

“Science and Social Media”
Josh Fessel, MD, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Medicine, Pharmacology, and Cancer Biology

Join Josh Fessel, MD, PhD, as he shares his experience and observations upon joining the scientific social media world.  He will share tips on social media etiquette, explain why engaging in social media can help you promote your science, and share some of the social media pitfalls you want to avoid when presenting your professional persona.

Speaker Bios

Leah Lowe, PhD,  Department Chair, Associate Professor of Theatre, Directing & Dramaturgy, Department of Theatre, Vanderbilt Univ,rsity

Associate Professor Leah Lowe earned her PhD from Florida State University, her MFA in Directing from the University of Minnesota, and her BA from Oberlin College. Since coming to Vanderbilt in the fall of 2011, she has directed productions of Carlo Gozzi’s The Green Bird and Dead Man’s Cell Phone by Sarah Ruhl. Her artistic interests include acting, directing, and devised performance. Her scholarly interests include popular American theatre of the nineteenth century, theories of comedy, and gender performance in theatre and drama. Her work has been published in Theatre Topics, Theatre Journal, and Theatre Symposium. She currently serves as the theatre department’s chair.

Joshua Fessel, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Medicine and Pharmacology, Department of Medicine, Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Dr. Fessel grew up in southern Illinois and southern Indiana and graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Evansville with a double major in Psychobiology and Chemistry in 1999.  He enrolled in Vanderbilt’s Medical Scientist Training Program, completing his PhD in Pharmacology in 2003 and his MD in 2006 and graduating as the Founder’s Medalist for the School of Medicine.  Dr. Fessel’s graduate work with L. Jackson Roberts, II, MD focused on free radical lipid biochemistry and involved the discovery of a novel class of lipid peroxidation products (isofurans) that exhibit sensitive modulation by oxygen concentrations in vitro and in vivo.  Studies of oxygen dynamics led naturally to investigations in mitochondrial biology, and this has become a major focus of Dr. Fessel’s research.  For his postdoctoral work with James West, PhD, Dr. Fessel identified multiple molecular metabolic pathways that are disrupted in pulmonary arterial hypertension in cells, animals, and humans with disease.  His research interests focus on pathways that control molecular metabolism (with an emphasis on Krebs cycle control), mitochondrial function, and interactions between oxidative stress and cellular metabolism.  He is the founder of Vanderbilt’s Mitochondria Interest Group, a multidisciplinary group of nearly 100 investigators who study all aspects of mitochondrial biology and metabolism.  Dr. Fessel’s research is funded by the Parker B. Francis Foundation, the Vanderbilt Clinical and Translational Research Scholars program (part of the Vanderbilt CTSA), and Actelion Pharmaceuticals.


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BRET Office of Career Development/The ASPIRE Program

The Graduate School


Click on the links below to see more about past events:

2017 ASPIRE to Connect (March 3, 2017)

2016 ASPIRE to Connect (March 14, 2016)

2015 ASPIRE to Connect (March 3, 2015)

2014 ASPIRE to Connect (March 18, 2014)