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The BBH Graduate Program: The COVID-19 pandemic can’t mute a time to celebrate students’ achievements!

Even in this time of COVID-19 and all the change it demands, there exist much welcomed pockets of constancy and expansion that invite joy. This year, in BBH, the seasonal developments in the doctoral program is one such phenomena as faculty and students celebrated the spring and summer graduations of five new Ph.D.s: Dr. Dusti Jones, Dr. Bradley Trager, Dr. Marzieh Majd, Dr. Frank Materia, and Dr. Jessica Salas-Brooks. More recently, Dr. Waylon Hastings and Dr. Marina Armendariz joined their ranks.

Even the pandemic could not slow the migration of these new scholars as they moved on to postdoctoral fellowships and research scholarship positions, including in Texas, Missouri, and California. Moreover, by summer’s end, the department’s first virtual orientation welcomed our new incoming BBH Graduate Student cohort: Lauren Chu, Aishwarya Ganguli, Shannon Glenn, Lourdes Perez, Shannon White, and Qiaofeng Ye. A vibrant, diverse, and talented 2020 cohort, these students are all off to a great start with their coursework, research, and other aspects of their training in BBH.

For Jennifer Graham-Engeland, Ph.D, associate professor of biobehavioral health and professor-in-charge of the BBH graduate program, the program’s academic strength and reputation is reflected in the many prestigious awards students have recently won. For example, Dana Zeid and Emily Jones were each recipients of National Institute of Health (NIH) research awards and Samuel Stull received a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program Award to support their training and research. In addition, Marzieh Majd and Jasmine Caulfield (Neuroscience IGDP), mentored by Dr. Engeland and Dr. Cavigelli, respectively, were both recipients of the 2020 Alumni Association Dissertation Award! Exemplifying the diversity of research in BBH, the research interests of these students ranges from genetic transmission of complex behavior to the effects of dynamic changes in mood on risky behavior and to factors relating to risk and resilience among first-generation college students.

Multiple BBH graduate students have also recently been accepted to competitive NIH training grants to support their training and research: Constanza Silva Gallarado and Katja Waldron were accepted to the Prevention and Methodology Training program; Elyse McMahon and Emily Fair to the Biomedical Big Data to Knowledge (B2D2K) program; and Leslie Ford to a new training program in Demography (Social Environments and Population Health).

BBH has been pleased to see all of our graduate students finding ways to stay productive, safe and healthy during this time. We wish everyone continued success and well-being as we see out 2020!

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