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Science educations start from Simple Beginnings

Sep. 5, 2019, 9:08 AM

James Patton, PhD, Stevenson Professor of Biological Sciences and director of the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program, helps Deronisha Arceneaux with her lab coat at last week’s Simple Beginnings ceremony. (photo by Anne Rayner)

by Bill Snyder

Vanderbilt University School of Medicine welcomed 118 new doctoral students last week during the 10th annual Simple Beginnings ceremony in a Light Hall lecture room packed with family members, friends and other well-wishers.

Leila Arefnezhad, center, a new graduate student in the Quantitative and Chemical Biology program, is congratulated by Kathy Gould, PhD, left, and Tina Iverson, PhD, co-director of the QCB program. (photo by Anne Rayner)

Kathy Gould, PhD, associate dean for Biomedical Sciences, director of Graduate Student Support, and the Louise B. McGavock Professor in the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, explained to the audience that the ceremony is a recognition of how important graduate students are to “the fabric of our community.”

Gould, a Vanderbilt faculty member and researcher since 1991, said that one of the best parts of her job has been training and working alongside graduate students.

“Each of them has brought to my lab, my career and my life a stimulating diversity of personalities, goals and ambitions,” she said.

The ceremony’s name comes from the last paragraph of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, published in 1859: “From so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.”

Cynthia Gadd, PhD, MBA, director of Graduate Studies for the program in Biomedical Informatics, congratulates new graduate student Eugene Jeong.
Cynthia Gadd, PhD, MBA, director of Graduate Studies for the program in Biomedical Informatics, congratulates new graduate student Eugene Jeong. (photo by Anne Rayner)

“From so simple a beginning as graduate school,” Gould said, “we cannot yet imagine the breadth of discoveries that will result from the research you will conduct or the impact you, as trained scientists, will have on our world.”

This year’s students come from 14 countries including the United States, 31 states and Puerto Rico. The largest group, 65 students, entered graduate school through the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program (IGP).

Other biomedical programs and departments welcoming new doctoral students were Biological Sciences (6), Biomedical Informatics (5), Biostatistics (4), Cell and Developmental Biology (2),Chemical and Physical Biology (1), Epidemiology (5), Hearing and Speech Sciences (5), Microbe-Host Interactions (2), Molecular Physiology and Biophysics (1), Neuroscience (5), Pharmacology (1), Quantitative and Chemical Biology (10) and the Vanderbilt School of Nursing PhD Program (6).

From left, Tierney Baum, Samuel Scott, Rebecca Buchanan and Jordyn Sanner, among 65 new enrollees in the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program
From left, Tierney Baum, Samuel Scott, Rebecca Buchanan and Jordyn Sanner, among 65 new enrollees in the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program. (photo by Anne Rayner)

As Roger Chalkley, DPhil, senior associate dean for Biomedical Research Education and Training (BRET), announced each of the graduate students by name, representatives of their graduate programs helped them into their personalized white lab coats, a classic symbol of scientific training.

Faculty, staff, alumni and family donations provided support for the ceremony and lab coat gifts. The BRET office organized the event.

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