Crystal Kennedy

Crystal Kennedy, PREP alum from Dr. Jake Tu's Lab, gave an update on #PhDLife at Duke University in her presentation titled, "My Journey to PhD Candidacy". She discussed her current research on the genetic effects of Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome (HGPS) and how it leads to atherosclerosis and subsequently a shortened lifespan. Crystal also provided some "nuggets of truth" for the new PREP cohort including:

  • Cherish the connections with your cohort and bond with them. 
  • VT-PREP is there for you. 
  • Take your work seriously . 
  • You're more than capable.
Minte Kassu

PREP Alum Minte Kassu from Jatinder Josan's lab shared on his #PhDLife at Northeastern University and his research titled "Discovery of Anti-Infectious Disease Agents using Kinetic Target-Guided Synthesis". He explained how his work focuses on ligand-based drug design to develop Gram-negative antibacterials and optimizing the robust fragment-based lead discovery strategy Kinetic Target-Guided Syntheis. Additionally, he told scholars that he didn't know where he would be without the VT PREP/IMSD programs. He reflected on his experiences in the program and stated that it was both rewarding and challenging. 

Duneia McManus

Duneia McManus, PREP Alum from the Dalloul Lab,  updated us on her #PhDLife at the University of Miami including her research on "Mechanisms of Ex-Vivo Expansion of Alloregulatory Tregs using Ex-Vivo Regulatory Dendritic Cells". Duneia encouraged current scholars to use their PREP year to sharpen their skills and to learn everything they can. She also encouraged them to learn how to balance lab work and other aspects of their life. She also mentioned using a graduate school application template when applying to different programs, but tailoring the end of the application to fit the specific school by looking at the school's mission statement to prove that it is a good fit.

Deon Brown

PREP Alum Deon Brown from Dr. Julie Dunsmore's Lab, gave an update on his #PhDLife at Virginia Commonwealth University in his presentation "Stepping Stones: The Journey to PhD." In his presentation, Deon reminded scholars that it's a PREP training program because they are going to be trained and aren't supposed to know everything. He also reminded everyone of the importance of representation and seeing yourself in science and research. Deon encouraged scholars to search for the right graduate school because it "has to fit to work." His lessons learned include: the value of a data log, personal involvement in research is a rewarding yet long process, and research design. 

Lara and Lindsay Dahora

IMSD 7 student Lara Dahora gave an update on her research in Dr. Christopher Thompson's Lab in her presentation "An Unlikely and Unexpected Journey Through Graduate School." Lara discussed how lead poisoning disproportionally impacts miniorities and it effects on thyroid hormones as well as brain development. Additionally, Lara's sister Lindsay Dahora spoke on her research at Duke University, "The Impact of Antibody Properties on Pathogen Recognition and Activation of Innate Immune Cells."  Lindsay discussed her research on vaccines and gave an overview of how the body produces adaptive immunity cells that remember a virus and make recovery time quicker. Both sisters agreed that the most important part of graduate school is finding a good mentor. Lindsay also stated that it's important to find a mentor who is an advocate for your field and your community.