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Forum highlights graduate student research

More than 100 graduate students and faculty members from Penn State College of Medicine gathered to hear about the progress students have made in their research at the 2020 Graduate Student Research Forum on March 5 and 6. The College of Medicine’s Graduate Student Association hosted the event with the support of event co-chairs Greer McKendrick and Quinn Wade.

The event kicked off on March 5 with a lecture from College of Medicine alumna Jane Roskams, followed by a reception where students, faculty and alumni gathered together to reconnect and discuss progress in their research and careers.

On March 6, students showcased posters and delivered oral presentations about their research. Roskams then delivered the keynote address in which she reflected on all the “forks in the road” of her career. She is currently a professor of neuroscience at the Life Sciences Centre and Center for Brain Health at the University of British Columbia and professor of neurosurgery at the University of Washington School of Medicine.

Her research interests include the regulation of abnormal nervous system development and brain repair. Roskams said that research interests and opportunities can shift over time, and sometimes it is okay to take a new direction when you approach a fork in the road.

“My entire career has progressed because of the friends I’ve made, people I’ve collaborated with and the communities I’ve been a part of,” Roskams said. “Scientific research is a journey, not a goal or a destination.”

A woman is seen speaking at a podium, gesturing with her hands.

College of Medicine alumna Jane Roskams shares lessons she has learned during her career in her keynote address at the 2020 Graduate Student Research Forum.

Roskams, who worked in the lab of James Connor, obtained her PhD in neuroscience from Penn State College of Medicine in 1991 and went on do research at the National Institutes of Health, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Allen Institute for Brain Science. During her talk, she shared some lessons she’s learned over the years:

  • Don’t be afraid to be ambitious.
  • There is no problem with “reaching” for help.
  • What you learn and who you meet now WILL be useful in the future.
  • Follow your gut – engage when you feel like you have something unique to learn or to contribute.
A woman speaks from a podium with large screens behind her depicting scientific information from her talk.

Erika Dahl, left, gives an oral presentation during the 2020 Graduate Student Research Forum. Dahl is a student in Penn State College of Medicine’s Biomedical Sciences PhD Program.

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