Seven NIEHS-affiliated postbaccalaureate fellows received outstanding poster honors May 2 at the 2018 National Institutes of Health (NIH) Postbac Poster Day.
NIEHS sent 21 competitors to this year’s event, which was held at the NIH Natcher Conference Center. Twelve of them received travel awards from the NIH Office of Intramural Training and Education (OITE) to attend.
One winner, Andrew Trexler, works in the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Toxicokinetics and Toxicology Laboratory, housed at NIEHS and led by NIEHS and National Toxicology Program (NTP) Director Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D.
The NIEHS participation rate represented a significant increase over recent years. From 2015 to 2017, NIEHS sent a total of 22 postbacs to the event. NIEHS currently hosts a total of 40 postbacs.
“I think the increase in attendance is due in large part to the excellent leadership of our new postbaccalaureate program manager, Katy Hamilton,” said Tammy Collins, Ph.D., director of the NIEHS Office of Fellows“ Career Development. “She organized the postbacs to attend, presented a poster-making workshop, and helped them practice their posters ahead of time.”
Beating the odds
This year, 772 posters were presented by postbacs from all 27 NIH institutes and centers. Slightly more than 20 percent of them were judged to be outstanding. With a full one-third of NIEHS participants winning awards, institute postbacs clearly performed above average.
This was the second year of attendance for postbac Lauren Carlson, who said this year’s crowd felt much bigger than last year’s. “Postbac day is always a great event,” she said. “It’s one of the few times where postbacs are able to get together to share what we’ve been working on.”
Energy and excitement
NIEHS attendees returned from the event energized. “It is a huge honor to receive an outstanding poster award,” Trexler said. “I am grateful to all of my mentors, especially Dr. Cannon and Dr. Birnbaum, for their support and guidance.”
“Andrew showed that low concentrations of 2,4,6-tribromophenol [TBP], which is persistent in our environment, inhibit the pumps that keep dangerous molecules out of the brain,” said Ronald Cannon, Ph.D., Trexler’s mentor. “It is really kind of groundbreaking.”
Verda Agan, who received a travel award to attend, dedicated her award to her lab mates in the Reproductive Developmental Biology Group, headed by Humphrey Yao, Ph.D.
“I am honored to have been selected for this very competitive award,” said Brian Elgart, who also received a travel award.
Glaire Delancy expressed gratitude to her mentor, Harriet Kinyamu, Ph.D., for challenging her and making her project possible.
Kevin Goslen expressed excitement upon hearing he had won. “I am grateful to Dr. Monica Pillon and Dr. Robin Stanley for giving me the opportunity to contribute to this project and encouraging me to present my work,” he said.
Highlighting important contributions
Postbac Poster Days have been held annually since 2001 to highlight the contributions of postbacs to the NIH intramural research program. A judging component was added in 2011.
OITE offers other career and professional development activities to postbacs as well.
- Skills workshops on topics such as oral and poster presentations and improving mentoring relationships.
- Getting to graduate and professional schools.
- Career exploration sessions.
- A graduate and professional school fair.
The postbacs who won travel awards were Verda Agan, Whitney Bell, Christine Bowen, Lauren Carlson, Gabrielle Childers, Brian Elgart, Marleny Garcia, Susan Kim, Ahmed Mashal, Adam Miranda, J. Tyler Ramsey, and Alma Solis.
(John Yewell is a contract writer for the NIEHS Office of Communications and Public Liaison.)