The University of Chicago


Discover UChicago :: Divisional Academic Ceremony :: Awards and Honors 2014 :: UChicago SACNAS Chapter Celebration :: Our Alumni after Graduation :: Rothman-Denes, National Academy of Sciences :: 2014 NSF Winners

DISCOVER UCHICAGO, October 9-11, 2014

The University of Chicago is offering talented individuals from traditionally underrepresented populations an expenses-paid opportunity to explore graduate education in the Biological Sciences Division (BSD). Selected partecipants will experience a weekend of graduate admissions workshops, research presentations by world-renowned faculty and their graduate students, and informal socials. They will receive advice on submitting a competitive application to our graduate programs and learn how to develop your own career as a scientist.

To learn more and apply:DiscoverUChicago
Discover UChicago

Application deadline:
September 2, 2014



Divisional Academic Ceremony and Graduate Dinner, June 12th and 13th, 2014

On Friday, June 13, 2014, the Division of the Biological Sciences held its annual Divisional Academic Ceremony at the Logan Center for the Arts. The BSD graduated 68 PhD and 31 MS students this year; 29 PhD graduates were present to receive their hoods.

Kenneth S. Polonsky, Dean of the Division of the Biological Sciences and the Pritzker School of Medicine, and Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs of the University of Chicago, opened the ceremony, welcoming the students and their families, and introducing the featured speaker, Christopher A. Walsh, MD, PhD - Bullard Professor of Pediatrics and Neurology at Harvard Medical School, Chief of the Division of Genetics at Boston Children's Hospital, and Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Yujie Li and Cristian Suarez Russell Becker and Juliane Bubeck-Wardenburg
Yujie Li and Cristian Suarez, her colleague and bandmate Russell Becker and his advisor, Juliane Bubeck-Wardenburg  

Walsh, a University of Chicago alumn himself, remembered his own graduation, second student to graduate in the brand-new Neurobiology program: he said on that day he learned the true meaning of the expression "walking on air". He reminisced about his time here, and especially about the journal club, the highlight of his week. It was at one of these journal clubs that he heard Jay Goldberg, professor of Pharmalology and Physiology, dismiss 7/8 of science as wrong. The statement infuriated him, both for its content, and its intellectual arrogance, but it has been proven amazingly accurate by a number of recent, widely advertised, studies.

While people may find "the Goldberg Rule" discouraging, Walsh thinks it only proves that doing good science is amazingly difficult as it should be, since it's about investigating the mysteries of life. He concluded encouraging the graduates to go and do their best to be part of the 12.5% with all their work:
"Be reminded that science is hard. But enjoy it, and it will reward you".

Chris Walsh and Patrick La Riviere Chris Walsh and Vicky Prince
Chris Walsh and Patrick La Riviere before the ceremony Chris Walsh and Vicky Prince on stage  

After Walsh's speech, the graduates - announced by Victoria Prince, professor of Organismal Biology and Anatomy, and Dean of Graduate Affairs in the Biological Sciences Division - received their hoods from a faculty or a family member. The ceremony was followed by a luncheon in the Logan Center courtyard, where everyone enjoyed the beautiful sunny day, and the delicious food, especially some little chocolate treats with a raspberry on top that disappeared in seconds.

Erin Adams biking in regalia Logan Center for the Arts
Erin Adams biking in regalia, in the beautiful sunny day The stunning Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts  

The evening prior, the graduates and their guests were celebrated at our annual dinner, held at the beautiful Drake Hotel downtown, where Maryellen Giger, A.N. Pritzker Professor of Radiology, gave a speech in her capacity as this year's faculty marshall.

Jillian McKee and her mother at dinner Jillian McKee and her mother in regalia
Jillian McKee and her mother, Leila Mitchell McKee, at dinner... ... and the day after, in regalia  

Awards and Honors - Convocation 2014

The following 2013-2014 graduates have been recognized by the Division and their programs for their dissertation and outstanding performance.

The award for best dissertation in the Division of Biological Sciences is shared this year by two graduates: Sophie McCoy (Ecology and Evolution; advisor: Catherine Pfister) and Sebastian Fica (Cell and Molecular Biology, advisors: Jonathan Staley and Joseph Piccirilli). Sebastian has also received the departmental award for outstanding performance in the the general field of cell and molecular biology.

Sophie McCoy Sebastian Fica
Sophie McCoy Sebastian Fica  

The following graduates have received program awards for outstanding performance in their field of study:

Josiah Zayner, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Marina Sharifi, Cancer Biology
Qiyan Mao, Development, Regeneration and Stem Cell Biology
Yujie Li, Genetics, Genomics, and Systems Biology
Miao Sun, Genetics, Genomics, and Systems Biology
Jing Guo, Health Studies
Ellen Leffler, Human Genetics
Michael Constantides, Immunology
Edmond Huang, Molecular Metabolism and Nutrition
Jacob Kach, Molecular Pathogenesis and Molecular Medicine
Lorenzo Rinaldo, Neurobiology

Congratulations to all our graduates, and best of luck for their future lives and careers!

UChicago SACNAS Chapter Celebration

On May 15, the Multicultural Graduate Community hosted a reception to celebrate the new UChicago SACNAS chapter with food, beverages, and raffle prizes. Dr. Lydia Villa-Komaroff, board member and chief scientific officer of Cytonome/ST and one of the founding members of SACNAS, was the guest of honor, and gave a few remarks.

SACNAS (Society for Advancement of Hispanics/Chicanos and Native Americans in Science) is a national organization committed to advancing the achievement of underrepresented STEM students to build opportunities, diversify the field, and develop future leaders. SACNAS is inclusive of all ethnicities, cultures and scientific disciplines, and is deeply committed to the highest standards of excellence in science and education.

Would you like to become part of SACNAS? Do it soon! The membership fee will be waived until June 4th for all new members of the UChicago chapter. Send an email to to be added to the roster and receive more information.


StudentsAndLogo  Students and Lydia eating
Victoria Flores (Evolutionary Biology) and Carlos Cardenas-Iñiguez (Integrative Neuroscience) Dr. Villa-Komaroff celebrating with our students  

Our Alumni after Graduation

Similar training, different outcome or Where do our graduates go?

To answer this question, we have gathered nearly complete data sets for graduates from 2008-2012 (0-5 years post PhD) and 2003-2007 (6-10 years post PhD), as well as data on a substantial subset of alumni who graduated more than 10 years ago. The data have been parsed out according to the 20 science job categories used by the Science Careers myIDP web site.


Of the 6-10 year post PhD graduates:

30% are using their science in non-research positions (education, business, research administration and technology commercialization)

26% have tenure-track positions (this number increases to around 50% for the 10 years after PhD group)

5% are doing research in industry

Want to learn more? Read Vicky's article in our Winter newsletter

Alumni Outcome Table

BSD Alumni outcomes after graduation
Alumni outcome 0-5 Alumni Outcome 6-10 Alumni Outcome after 10 years


Rothman-Denes, National Academy of Sciences

Lucia Rothman-Denes, Professor in the Department of Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology, has been elected by her peers to be a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Dr. Rothman-Denes is now part of an exclusive group of elite researchers recognized for their distinguished and continuing contributions to research. The National Academy of Sciences is charged with providing independent, objective advice to the nation on matters related to science and technology, and membership is one of the highest professional honors a scientist can achieve.

Dr. Rothman-Denes joins Jeff Harvey, PhD, Enrico Fermi Distinguished Service Professor of Physics; Dam Thanh Son, PhD, University Professor of Physics; and Carlos Kenig, PhD, Louis Block Distinguished Service Professor of Mathematics, as new members of the Academy from the University of Chicago in 2014. The four are among 84 elected to the Academy, bringing the total number of active members to 2,214.

Dr. Rothman-Denes is best known for pioneering a novel system to study how viruses take over the molecular processes of their hosts. Combining genetic, biochemical, biophysical and structural approaches, her work has yielded fundamental insights into viral-host interactions and identified new mechanisms of the transcriptional regulation of gene expression. Her laboratory also focuses on further elucidating these viral-host interactions and exploiting them to discover new therapeutic targets.
Dr. Rothman-Denes first joined the University of Chicago faculty as an assistant professor in 1974. In 1984, she was appointed as full professor in the Department of Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology. She is an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Academy of Arts & Sciences and the American Academy of Microbiology.



2014 NSF Winners

width="180"Congratulations to our winners of 2014 National Science Foundation awards:

Hector Acaron, Biophysical Sciences (PSD)
Adam Hardy, Integrative Biology
Alyssa Harker, Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics
Joshua Riback, Biophysical Sciences (PSD)
Darcy Ross, Integrative Biology
Joel Smith, Ecology & Evolution
Kevin Song, Biophysical Sciences (PSD)

Read the announcement from the NSF here.


News Archives 2013

News Archives 2012

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