BPS Summer Course Alums Return to Chapel Hill

IMG_0246For the fifth consecutive year, students and past alumni gathered in Chapel Hill, North Carolina for the 2013 Biophysics Summer Course Reunion. The current Summer Course students were joined by 13 alumni and 4 guest faculty members who traveled from around the country to partake in networking events, dinners, and scientific talks.

The weekend began with dinner at the Carolina Brewery in downtown Chapel Hill where alumni happily reunited and introduced themselves to the current class of students. By the time entrees were served, alumni and current students chatted like old friends. Much of the conversation focused on research and graduate school advice from alumni.

The next morning, the current class of students kicked off the Reunion Symposium by giving alumni and visiting faculty a feel for what they have been doing in the past weeks. The current students presented their summer research projects and answered questions from their peers as well as Mike Jarfster and Barry Lentz, Course Co-Directors.

One of the weekend’s highlights was certainly the talks given by the visiting faculty. Linda Columbus,University of Virginia; Ernesto Fuentes,University of Iowa; Ari Gafni, University of Michigan; and Barbara Goldman, Purdue University, each spoke on their current research and the career hurdles they faced when starting out their scientific careers. After lunch, the guest faculty held an open panel discussion where current students and alumni asked questions about graduate school, networking, and success in industry.

Later that evening, Reunion attendees gathered for a traditional North-Carolina-style BBQ, featuring pulled pork, hush puppies, and banana pudding. Current students, visiting faculty, and alums mingled, relaxed, and discussed some of the scientific and career topics that were presented earlier in the day.

On Sunday, the alumni took the stage. After a late brunch, past students gave presentations on their current research and participated in a panel where current students could ask for career and networking advice. Highlights included the first Summer Course graduate to receive their PhD, Yadilette Rivera Colon, University of Massachusetts Amherst, who will begin a teaching postdoc at the University of Pennsylvania, this fall.

After a weekend packed with science and socializing, current students headed back to their dorms and alumni all hitched rides back to the airport. The Reunion was over, but phone numbers and email address were exchanged. After all, one point emphasized by guest faculty members and alumni alike, was to always take advantage of chances to broaden your network!

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