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Exceptional graduate students honored with Dean’s Award

Aug. 22, 2019, 9:30 AM

Recipients of the 2019 Dean’s Award for Exceptional Achievement in Graduate Studies are (front row, left to right) Margaret Axelrod, Abigail Neininger, Alejandra Romero-Morales, Sheryl Vermudez, Demond Williams, and (back row, left to right) James O’Connor, Manuel Castro, Matthew Cottam, Matthew Wleklinski, Michael Doyle and Azadeh Hadadianpour.

by Leigh MacMillan

Eleven graduate students entering their fourth year of training have received the Dean’s Award for Exceptional Achievement in Graduate Studies. The award recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students who have distinguished themselves through the originality, significance and rigor of their dissertation research.

“We are very delighted to recognize these exceptional students,” said Lawrence Marnett, PhD, dean of Basic Sciences. “Their discoveries advance our understanding of human biology and distinguish Vanderbilt in the international scientific community. We are so proud of their accomplishments.”

Marnett, who holds the Mary Geddes Stahlman Chair in Cancer Research, is University Professor of Biochemistry and Chemistry and professor of Pharmacology.

The Dean’s Award provides $5,000 in stipend support for each of the next two years.

Winners of the awards, their programs and mentors are:

  • Margaret Axelrod, Cancer Biology, mentored by Justin Balko, PharmD, PhD
  • Manuel Castro, Biochemistry, mentored by Charles Sanders, PhD
  • Matthew Cottam, Molecular Physiology and Biophysics, mentored by Alyssa Hasty, PhD
  • Michael Doyle, Microbe-Host Interactions, mentored by James Crowe, MD
  • Azadeh Hadadianpour, Molecular Pathology and Immunology, mentored by Scott Smith, MD
  • Abigail Neininger, Cell and Developmental Biology, mentored by Dylan Burnette, PhD
  • James O’Connor, Cell and Developmental Biology, mentored by Andrea Page-McCaw, PhD
  • Alejandra Romero-Morales, Cell and Developmental Biology, mentored by Vivian Gama, PhD
  • Sheryl Vermudez, Pharmacology, mentored by Colleen Niswender, PhD, and P. Jeffrey Conn, PhD
  • Demond Williams, Cancer Biology, mentored by Barbara Fingleton, PhD
  • Matthew Wleklinski, Pharmacology, mentored by Bjorn Knollmann, MD, PhD

Students in PhD programs linked to the School of Medicine are eligible for the award, as are students in the Medical Scientist Training Program.

Nominations received from faculty members were evaluated by a committee consisting of the directors of Graduate Studies for each of the PhD-granting programs in the School of Medicine. Awards are based on research excellence as evidenced by fellowship awards, publications and presentations at conferences, and on mastery of a discipline as demonstrated by classwork, qualifying exam and performance in committee meetings.

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