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Fall 2018 What’s Happening at the Graduate School?

What’s Happening at the Graduate School?

Many exciting things are going on at the Graduate School. Here, we showcase our most memorable events of the past year.

Peggy Olive with former and current deans
From left are Duane Larick, Becky Rufty, Peggy Olive, Peter Harries and Bob Sowell. All are former Graduate School deans who Olive worked for, except for Harries, who is the current interim dean. (Becky Kirkland photo)

Peggypalooza – Celebrating 50 years with the Graduate School

Many alumni who passed through the Graduate School in, say, the past 50 years, probably remember Peggy Olive. That’s because Olive has been working here serving graduate students for 50 years, as of last March. So we held a big celebration, and brought back half of the nine deans she worked for over the years. We couldn’t possibly have invited all of Olive’s former students – they would number in the thousands. But many of our Graduate School Facebook fans shared their gratitude for all the support that Olive had provided them over the years.

Peggypalooza three minute thesis presenter

Three Minute Thesis – Share your research in just three minutes

Each fall, the Graduate School hosts the Three Minute Thesis competition, where graduate students share their research project in just three minutes. It began in late September, when nearly 30 students competed in preliminary rounds to choose 10 finalists. A panel of judges chooses first- and second-place winners, and the audience votes for a People’s Choice winner. In October, two College of Textiles graduate students were chosen as top winners. First place winner was Ciera Cipriana (see video above), a master’s student in textile chemistry, whose research involves identifying dye molecules in fabrics that don’t create toxins when they break down. Greg Fishel, meteorologist with WRAL News, was this year’s enthusiastic master of ceremonies.

Three Minute Thesis
students working at computer
Participants in the Graduate School’s Accelerate to Industry Immersion Week work on team projects and learn from industry representatives. (Marc Hall photo)

Accelerate to Industry

Gone are the days when earning a Ph.D. was an automatic ticket to a faculty position. Today, Ph.D.s are seeking employment in business and industry as well as academia, and employers are excited to get them. To help Ph.D.s gain the knowledge and skills they need to land a job in industry, the Graduate School this year launched Accelerate to Industry or A2i.

The signature program for A2i, which targets late-stage Ph.D. students and postdocs, is a summer Industry Immersion Program. Various industry partners each have a day to showcase their companies for this elite group of prospective employees. And the participants learn what it takes to succeed in an industry job. This summer, the program hosted 60 participants. Plans are for the program to serve all graduate students through internships, group projects, company visits and more.

Accelerate to Industry

Welcome, new students and teaching assistants

In August right before classes started, the Graduate School welcomed more than 3,000 new graduate students at our day-long orientation in McKimmon Center. This year’s orientation included a student panel that answered questions from new students about what it’s like to be in graduate school. Students took home a red Graduate School t-shirt, and they were treated to Howling Cow ice cream at the orientation information fair, co-sponsored with the Graduate Student Association.

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In addition, new teaching assistants participated in a workshop designed just for them. In the three years since the New TA Workshop was first offered, the number of students participating has grown from about 100 to over 400. New TAs said the workshop helped give them the confidence that they can be effective teachers.

Hurricane Florence crashes into fall semester

Fall classes had barely gotten underway when Hurricane Florence threatened the Raleigh area, causing NC State and other Triangle universities to cancel classes for three days — Sept. 14, 15 and 17. NC State, and the Triangle area sustained little damage as a result of the storm that made a southerly turn right after landfall near Wilmington. However, heavy rainfall in southeastern North Carolina led to flooding in that area, with rivers cresting as much as two weeks after the storm. Many roads in the area – including major interstates like I-40 and I-95 – were closed for days. Many NC State groups stepped up to help the state recover.

Recovery Effort
Arden talking with students
Provost Warick Arden interacts with fellows at the fall reception for new Provost Fellows. (Natalie Hampton photo)

Welcoming new Provost’s fellows

In October, we held a reception to welcome about 80 Provost’s Doctoral Recruiting Fellows. This Provost’s Office initiative, started in 2014, provides graduate programs with one-year awards to help recruit outstanding new doctoral students to NC State. This fall, the new fellows were invited to a reception with Provost Warick Arden, Interim Dean Peter Harries of the Graduate School, directors of graduate programs and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Duane Larick, who oversees the Provost’s Fellows. Since 2014, the Provost’s Fellows program has provided more than $8.2 million to support over 350 doctoral fellows.

Graduate Student and Postdoc Research Symposia

An important skill for graduate students to learn is how to present their work at a poster session. Each March, more than 200 graduate students have the opportunity to do just that and to have their work judged during the Graduate Student Research Symposium. Winners are chosen in a variety of disciplines. This year, the College of Humanities and Social Sciences had more poster entries in the symposium than any other college. The research symposium is co-sponsored by the Graduate School and the Graduate Student Association.

Just as campus is putting spring commencement to rest, the Graduate School’s Office of Postdoctoral Affairs gears up for the annual Postdoc Research Symposium. The day-long event included poster sessions with 60 presenters. Keynote speaker was Jamie Vernon, NC State alumnus and CEO of Sigma Xi. As former editor of American Scientist magazine, Vernon talked about the importance of communicating science. Though public trust in science has changed over the past 30-40 years, Vernon said that the public will believe “culturally identifiable experts” who share their values along with their science.

students eating ice cream
Graduate students Matt Jurjonas, Whitney McCoy and Sophia Webster-Tostenson represented NC State at Graduate Education Day (Darren White photo)

Graduate Education Day  at the General Assembly

In May, with graduation is behind them, North Carolina’s graduate schools bring their best and brightest students tell members of the General Assembly know how students are making a difference. This year’s event was a little different, without the poster session from past years, and the ice cream party for legislators was moved across the street to Bicentennial Plaza. Students and Graduate School staff visited with legislators, mainly from Wake County, to share the impact they are making in North Carolina. One NC State student is studying the resiliency of rural eastern North Carolina communities that are adapting to coastal hazards and the threat of sea level rise. Another STEM education student shared what she’s learned about the coping mechanisms of African-American students, faculty and staff who experience microaggressions. And a third student shared her work to genetically modify wild mosquito populations to prevent them from spreading diseases. In all, 32 graduate students from 11 universities visited 54 North Carolina legislators to share their stories.

Graduate Education Day

We are holding our breath — fall commencement is just around the corner!

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