Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics Graduate Group

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Student Activities

renee explains to ronenIn addition to classes and research, students participate in many activities that enhance their education and development as scientists. These activities help students to develop a network of contacts, to acquire career skills, and to interact with faculty in less formal environments. In addition, social activities provide a support system and, most importantly, foster long-lasting friendships.

Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics Dr. George W. Raiziss Seminar Series: This is a weekly seminar series sponsored by the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, which brings in eminent scientists from around the country. Graduate students invite two speakers each semester and are responsible for setting up the schedules for these speakers and taking them to dinner. This seminar series forms the basis for the course BMB 650 (Current Biochemical Topics).

Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics Friday Research Discussions: Every Friday afternoon during the academic year, faculty, students and postdocs gather over refreshments in the Johnson Foundation Library to hear about and discuss emerging projects being carried out in laboratories within the Department and related BMB graduate program. All Ph.D. students in the program have multiple opportunities during their training to present their work in this forum.

Chemical-Biophysics Mini-Symposia: These student-organized mini-symposia are jointly sponsored by the Departments of Biochemistry & Biophysics, and Chemistry with additional University and corporate sponsorship solicited by the organizers. The goal of these mini-symposia is to explore topics of interest to the research communities of both the Department of Biochemistry & Biophysics, and the Department of Chemistry in the hope of furthering interdisciplinary projects and collaborations. It also provides increasing opportunities for students and postdocs to present their research and interact with leaders in the field.

Annual Retreat: BMB and the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics sponsor this annual two-day event. Over 150 students, faculty, and postdocs participate and present their recent work in poster sessions and talks. All graduate students are expected to present a poster at the retreat; prizes are awarded for the best posters. Highlights of the retreat in the past included a keynote address by a distinguished outside speaker and the student-faculty softball game, followed by the annual picnic to which family and friends are invited. Click here for the program and photos from the 2013 retreat which was held on November 7-8 at Skytop Lodge in the Pocono Mountains.

retreat rowJournal Clubs and Other Student Presentation Opportunities

Most faculty in the BMB Graduate Group have additional affiliations with training programs, institutes or other subgroups that run journal clubs or other forums for student and postdoctoral fellow presentations. Examples include:

Crystal Talks: A collection of the structural biology laboratories in PennMedicine, Chemistry and the Wistar Institute gather for weekly “Crystal Talks”. Each week two trainees from these groups present their research progress in an informal setting with ample opportunity for discussion.

Chemistry and Biology Interface (CBI) Student Luncheons: A monthly series with two student research presentations. Discussion is moderated by two CBI faculty trainers.

Pennsylvania Muscle Institute Journal Clubs

IDOM Graduate Student Interest Group

four at retreatPrograms for dissertation status students

BMB runs a program for dissertation-level students to complement the training that they receive in the laboratory environment. Topics include advice on preparing for thesis committee meetings, writing fellowship applications, organizing data for manuscripts, different aspects of scientific writing, and career advice.

Teaching opportunities

The BMB graduate group provides teaching assistantships for several BMB classes. A BMB-specific teaching assistant is also provided to assist our students with BIOM 600, required for all first year students. These teaching assistantships are funded by the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics Raiziss Fund. These teaching opportunities are important both for the training of the students enrolled in the classes, and for the TAs themselves.

Outreach Opportunities

BMB graduate students lead a summer course for the Upward Bound Math Science (UBMS) program. The University of Pennsylvania runs the UBMS program for West Philadelphia high school students. In addition to support during the school year, UBMS students attend summer school at Penn. BMB graduate students organize and teach a biochemistry laboratory elective class for these students (see picture below of students from the UBMS program). This opportunity has been incredibly rewarding for participating students.

outreach opportunities

PENN Student Activities

BGS Student Groups:

Biomedical Graduate Student Association
Ernest E. Just Biomedical Society
Penn Science Policy Group

University Student Groups:

Graduate & Professional Student Assembly (GAPSA)
Fontaine Society
Penn Biotech Group
Penn Graduate Women in Science and Engineering (PGWISE)
Black Graduate and Professional Students Assembly (BGPSA)

A list of additional student groups can be found on the Graduate Student Center web site.

University Clubs and Organizations: Penn has a large and diverse community of students with wide-ranging interests. In the past, BMB students have been members of such varied organizations as the Penn Ballroom Dance Society, the Outing Club, and the Penn Ultimate Frisbee Team. They have also organized intramural softball and volleyball teams and have performed with the Penn Ancient Voices Chorus. Information for such organizations can be found at the Office of Student Affairs.