The annual Integrative Biology Retreat brings all the graduate students in the Integrative Biology (IB) PhD program together as well as recruit’s new students. The event is intended to inform current and prospective students about the ongoing research projects in the FAU Charles E. Schmidt College of Science and College of Medicine and provide graduate students the opportunity to participate in an atmosphere much like that of a national meeting. Each year, the IB Retreat highlights the on-going research projects and invites outside speakers and alums to inspire, motivate and educate a broad audience of students.
The IB PhD program currently has 77 students from both the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science and College of Medicine, encompassing different disciplines spread out over four FAU campuses. Given the diverse research interests and locations of the students in the program, many of them do not get a chance to interact during the year. The retreat provides this platform. In addition, the diverse student body has an opportunity to express specific needs and expectations of the program. This year the IB Retreat was held on Friday, February 22, 2019 at the Live Oak Pavilion on the FAU Boca Raton campus. The day's events included a poster session, a Faculty 3-Minute Thesis Competition, Distinguished Alumni talk and award presentation, keynote speech, and reception.
The morning poster session displayed 55 current graduate student research projects. Akshay Naraine, a first-year IB PhD student who works in the laboratory of Dr. Ken Dawson-Scully, won first place in poster session A for his research project entitled "Roundup's effect on C. elegans using an electroshock seizure assay." Youssef Motti, who works in the laboratory of Dr. James Hartmann, won first place in poster session B for his research project entitled "Development of a multiplex microparticle for intracellular immunotherapy of breast cancer."
This year's events also featured the first-ever Faculty 3-Minute Thesis Competition, which had five competitors from two different FAU campuses. Faculty members were nominated to compete by fellow faculty and those that accepted were able to nominate another competitor. Event participants from the FAU Boca Raton campus included Dr. Sarah Milton, Dr. Jeanette Wyneken, Dr. Diane Baronas-Lowell, and Dr. Stephen Kajiura. The FAU Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute was represented by Dr. Guojun Wang. First place was awarded to Dr. Stephen Kajiura and the People's Choice Award was presented to Dr. Sarah Milton.
The keynote speaker was Dr. Nipam Patel, the newly-appointed director of the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA. His research focuses on the study of the evolution of development mechanisms with a focus on genes that regulate segmentation and regionalization of body plans. The 2019 Distinguished Alumni Award was presented to Dr. Courtney Cocilova, Senior Scientist at Micelle Biopharma Inc, who conducted her dissertation research under the direction of Dr. Sarah Milton. Cocilova's acceptance speech focused on her time at FAU, her current position in the pharmaceutical industry, and plenty of tips and advice for current graduate students. The day's events concluded with a social reception for all attendees, which provides an informal forum to encourage and facilitate scientific interactions and discussion among diverse program members.
This annual event is hosted by the Association of Integrative Biology Students and the Association of Biological and Biomedical Students. This event would not be possible without the continued support of sponsors from the FAU community. A special thanks to the following sponsors: