Grad School Students Celebrate Ph.D. Milestone

Tonisha Kearney-Ramos puts on her white coat with help from her mentor Andrew James, Ph.D.

Neil Detweiler accepts a plaque from Robert McGehee, Ph.D. for an Outstanding Acheivement Award for his American Heart Association Predoctoral Fellowship.

Ph.D. students recite the Affirmation of Scientists after their being presented with their white coats.

Oct. 1, 2013 | After years of sitting in a classroom and countless hours of studying for exams, 32 graduate students celebrated the next step in earning their doctorate degrees.

The UAMS Graduate School held its annual Research Induction Ceremony on September 23 to recognize students who had passed the qualifying or candidacy exam that students take following their first two years in the graduate program. Family and friends of the honorees represented a good portion of the crowd of more than 200 who attended the event, held in the I Dodd Wilson Education Building auditorium.

“We are here to celebrate the 32 students who have passed. It marks the formal transition of the student from their graduate program director to their major graduate advisor or mentor, under whose guidance they will begin their dissertation research,” said Graduate School Dean Robert E. McGehee, Ph.D. “It’s a key point in the career of a biomedical scientist.”

McGehee outlined the route that a student takes toward earning the degree. Because of the nature of UAMS’ small program, he said, being accepted to the program is difficult and competitive. Students receive personal attention under the guidance of their program director before preparing for the intense Ph.D. qualifying exam. This sets the stage for them, and once they have mastered the material on the exam, they can move forward with their dissertation.

The ceremony marks the point when the students have passed the exam and are moving forward with assistance from their mentors. Students were recognized individually, putting on their white coats with assistance from their program directors and mentors. The Ph.D. candidates then recited the Affirmation of Scientists, where they promise to represent their scientific professions honorably and conduct research and their professional lives in a manner that is above reproach.

The 32 students were from 12 different programs within the graduate school, including biochemistry and molecular biology, bioinformatics, cellular physiology and molecular biophysics, health promotion and prevention research, health systems research, interdisciplinary biomedical sciences, interdisciplinary toxicology, microbiology and immunology, neurobiology and developmental sciences, nursing science and pharmaceutical sciences.

The ceremony also recognized a number of other students and mentors for their work in the graduate school this year. Neil Detweiler and Christopher Moore both were awarded Outstanding Achievement Awards for receiving American Heart Association Predoctoral fellowships.

The goal of the Research Induction Ceremony is to serve as a memorable event to recognize the commitment to an honorable career of discovery and to commemorate the excellence of our UAMS Graduate School students, staff and faculty.

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