(July 27, 2018) — As part of its commitment to training the next generation of researchers, Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center hosted a poster day to showcase the work of its trainees, who include master's students, postdoctoral fellows and others in advanced training.
The poster day was organized by the T32 Oversight Committee, a group of faculty members, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. The committee oversees training for tumor biology trainees, including recipients of the T32 award, a training grant from the National Institutes of Health that provides funding for predoctoral and postdoctoral research training in specified shortage areas.
Led by Anna Riegel, PhD, a professor of oncology and pharmacology and the director for cancer research education at Georgetown Lombardi, the committee's faculty meets once a month with tumor biology oversight trainees, who serve as advocates for the entire tumor biology student population and plan events on their behalf.
The poster day is completely run by students and this year it took place in the Research Building, where students do their everyday science, Sarah Martinez Roth (G’15), a third-year PhD student in the tumor biology program at Georgetown University Medical Center, pointed out. Roth is also a member of the T32 Oversight Committee.
“What attracted me most to Georgetown was the fact that we had a T32 program, which gives us so many more resources,” she added.
Sharpening Science Communication Skills
At a retreat for T32 recipients and tumor biology doctoral students and postdocs the morning of the poster day, trainees worked on their science communication skills. The students then immediately had an opportunity to practice what they learned at the poster day as postdoctoral fellows and tumor biology students answered questions about their research from observers.
“This poster day improves students’ science communications skills massively. The mentors spend so much time helping them with posters and it’s really helpful for them to be able to stand up and explain what they’re doing in front of a friendly and knowledgeable audience,” Riegel said.
The poster day also gives trainees a great opportunity to receive valuable feedback from faculty on their work, according to Hillary Stires, PhD, the postdoctoral representative on the T32 Oversight Committee.
The Teaching Award Recipient
Every year during Georgetown Lombardi Research Poster Day, graduate students select a faculty member to receive a teaching award. Following remarks from Louis M. Weiner, MD, director of Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, Maria Laura Avantaggiati, MD, an associate professor of oncology, was named the recipient of this year’s award.
Catie Sevigny, a fourth-year PhD candidate in tumor biology, described how supportive Avantaggiati has been during the challenges she has faced, such as having to change her thesis halfway through her doctoral program.
“She’s also one of the most helpful people. During our data meetings every Thursday morning, she’s very attentive to our questions and presentations—always asking things that are very relevant to what we’re trying to study and will always come up with things that we didn’t think of,” Sevigny said.