Nearly 300 members of the Einstein community and guests packed Robbins Auditorium on Thursday, August 22, 2013, for the third annual Declaration Celebration — a rite of passage for Einstein graduate students who have completed the first leg of their journey toward a Ph.D. degree.
First-year graduate students at Einstein typically begin their coursework and complete three laboratory rotations. The lab rotations allow students to explore their particular research interests while taking advantage of the breadth of science available to them. At the end of the first year, each student is asked to choose the laboratory where they will conduct their research, culminating in the Ph.D.
Sponsored by the Einstein Board of Overseers, along with institutional advancement and the graduate programs in the biomedical sciences, the Declaration Celebration gives prospective doctoral candidates an opportunity to officially "declare" — before their fellow graduate students, mentors, key members of the Einstein faculty, administration and Board, as well as their family and friends — the next step they intend to take in their academic careers. Among those in attendance was Dr. Ruth L. Gottesman, chair of the Board of Overseers.
Following a welcome by Dr. Victoria Freedman, associate dean for graduate programs in the biomedical sciences, Dr. Edward R. Burns, executive dean, offered introductory remarks. Then, the evening's keynote speaker, Dr. Arturo Casadevall, professor and chair of microbiology & immunology, offered the declaring students advice on successful scientific investigation derived from his own experiences and observations. These words of wisdom included: "Learn to do several things at once," "resist the pull of specialization," "be good to those around you," "find a way to learn more philosophy," and "embrace all aspects of scientific integrity."
Dr. Casadevall, who is also the Leo and Julia Forchheimer Chair in Microbiology & Immunology and director of Einstein's Center for Immunological Sciences, noted further, "In choosing a laboratory you've made one of the most important decisions of your scientific career, for that environment will shape much of what you will become."
He also spoke of the current funding crisis in scientific research in the United States, concluding, "Science is more important than ever and humanity has never had a greater need for scientists."
Next, students representing the departments in which the declaring students will be doing their thesis research came to the lectern, in pairs. After introducing themselves and the research conducted in their respective departments, they invited the declaring students to join them and be recognized. When the entire group was assembled on stage, the students at the lectern asked the faculty from their departments to rise. In all, 49 students made declarations, with 46 joining the departments of anatomy & structural biology, biochemistry, cell biology, developmental and molecular biology, genetics, microbiology & immunology, molecular pharmacology, neuroscience, pathology, and systems and computational biology, and 3 selecting labs that conduct clinical investigations.
The ceremony closed with Dr. Joan Berman, professor of pathology and of microbiology & immunology and senior academic advisor to the graduate division, leading the honorees in a recital of the Oath of Scientists. The students pledged to honor the contributions of prior scientists; to work in order to benefit all of humanity; and to seek truth in an attempt to advance biomedical science.
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