The Graduate Student Education Committee seeks to raise the level of awareness of graduate education at McGovern Medical School with the goal of contributing to the long range development of the student and ultimately, the early career researcher. In conjunction with the MD Anderson Cancer Center UTHealth Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, the Committee fosters and encourages the creation of educational and networking opportunities.

Let’s talk

The Let’s Talk page is your platform to be heard.  We want to hear from you about the important issues surrounding your graduate education experience.  These articles may talk about  program related issues or simply discuss great places to eat, or the best places to live.  You may propose an initiative or inform us about your hobbies and interests.   Our goal is to have each of our graduate students submit a blog.

If you would like to provide the next featured article please e-mail your blog with hyperlinks included and a photo of yourself at least 300 dpi or greater to  Check back on a regular basis to read the latest entries.

Daily Practice as Graduate Students September 20, 2016

by Jian Xiong, 3rd year Ph.D student in Department of Integrative Biology and Pharmacology

Tennis players practice 1,000 serves every day, and soccer players practice 100 free kicks everyday. For sportsman, they need to practice the same movement hundreds of times every day in order to polish their skills, then what should be the daily practice of graduate students in order to make our outlook brighter?

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Tanya Baldwin

What I Learned From Chairing a Conference August 26, 2016

by Tanya Baldwin, Fourth Year Ph.D. Student, Department of Integrative Biology and Pharmacology

Over the summer I had the privilege of chairing the Gordon Research Seminar (GRS) in Phosphorylation and G-Protein Mediated Signaling Networks. This conference is a scaled down version of the well-known Gordon Research Conference (GRC) taking place right before the GRC. I was given this opportunity because my mentor, Carmen Dessauer, Ph.D. was the chair of the GRC in Phosphorylation and G-Protein Mediated Signaling Networks. What makes the GRS unique is that it is organized and attended solely by students, post-doctoral fellows, and other scientists at a similar career level. The goal is to promote networking among scientists during the early stages of their careers in a relaxed environment.

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Sara Peffer

Finding Your Outlet June 23, 2016

by Sara Peffer, Fourth Year Ph.D. Student, Department of Microbiology & Molecular Genetics

Getting through five or more years of graduate school has its ups and downs. Sometimes science does not cooperate, hypotheses need to be adjusted, occasionally your advisor disagrees with you, and of course – at some point you experience your candidacy exam and eventually your defense. There are also times when your data looks beautiful and consistently repeats, it supports the hypothesis, and your advisor and committee members cheer you on. This constantly tumultuous cycle can be stressful and wear you down mentally and even physically, so it’s important to balance the stresses you may encounter in the lab with hobbies, activities, friends, and a lifestyle to help maintain your sanity.

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It Takes a Village April 19, 2016

by Christopher Evans, Third Year Ph.D. Student, Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics

Graduate school education is unlike any other step in a student’s academic career. From early childhood until the end of their undergraduate education, learning generally means listening to lectures, doing assignments, and taking tests. During most of graduate school, none of this actually happens! That can sometimes make explaining how graduate school works a little difficult to people that haven’t experienced it. So I thought I would take this opportunity to discuss all the different people that contribute to a graduate student’s education.

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Academia’s Inferno April 4, 2016

by Kimiya Memarzadeh, Graduate Research Assistant, Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, Neuroscience Graduate Program

In high school I read a book called Inferno by Dante Alighieri. You may or may not have read it, but this is what happens: Dante is taken through hell, which is depicted as nine circles of suffering, just to end up back on Earth at the end. In a more light and slightly comical take on this famous poem, I want to take you through the nine circles of suffering every graduate student experiences on their journey to defending their thesis. I’m sure there are far more than nine forms of struggle that graduate students go through, but for the purpose of the analogy, we will stick with nine.

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Learning to Think April 1, 2014

by Sarah Eagleman, PhD, Post Defense Graduate Student, Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy

As you come to the end of your career as a graduate student there is a funny feeling you experience that no one warns you about. You’ve spent countless, tireless hours in the laboratory slaving away trying to understand how to use big, complicated pieces of equipment. You also now understand how to make measurements and with these measurements, you test hypotheses about the properties of tiny things you can’t see. You’ve certainly learned a great deal, but then you start thinking about the fine details of your work. Thoughts arise about the limitations of your analyses or extent of your controls. And you begin to have this daunting feeling about all of these things you don’t know and didn’t even consider while you were tirelessly trying to acclimate to a life in academia.

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Springtime Gardening

by Germaine Agollah, PhD Candidate, Immunology Graduate Program, Center for Molecular Imaging, Institute of Molecular Medicine

Spring is finally here! Usually at this time of the year, I get to indulge in one of my favorite hobbies: gardening. I’m especially excited this year because Houston was colder than usual as we had a semblance of a winter season. There is something soothing, maybe even primal, about getting my hands dirty and nurturing plant life throughout the season. It is one the best stress reliefs with the added bonus that I get to create something that I enjoy most of the year, weather permitting of course. More often than not, it is my decompressing time, a quiet activity that takes my mind away from the rigors of graduate school.

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On the Road or in the Lab November 18, 2013

by Lihe Chen, Graduate Student, Division of Renal Diseases, Department of Internal Medicine

As students, finding the time to relax is difficult. On the one hand, there are our experiments and the constant hope that they work as expected. On the other hand, we really want to indulge ourselves without interruptions from “research”. Travel provides a balance between our work and personal lives. It is at once, exhilarating and exhausting and it can free our souls and sharpen our minds. Travel makes our world smaller and enriches our lives.

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Navigating and Networking at Scientific Conferences August 19, 2013

by Stuart Red, Fourth Year Ph.D. graduate student in the Neuroscience program

At some point in your scientific career, you will attend your first conference. As you progress through graduate school your strategies at conferences will improve and change according to your current goals. Preparation for conferences can be nerve wrecking and regardless of the amount of planning undertaken prior to arrival, chaos often ensues the moment you arrive. Although each conference is unique with differences based on specific field, conference size, location , etc, there are some common ideas to keep in mind and multiple resources currently available to guide students through the madness of a conference.

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Houston Biking

by Jonathan Flynn, Neuroscience Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy

About a year and a half ago, I started routinely biking to work. As a graduate student whose job largely consists of sitting in front of the computer, I have not regretted that decision at all. Two factors have made it appealing to me: 1) It’s a form of light exercise, and 2) it’s often faster than any other form of transportation in Houston.

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Starting the Search for an Alternative Career April 15, 2013

by Kimberly Busiek, Fifth Year Ph.D. Graduate Student, Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics

So when are you graduating? If you have spent more than five minutes in graduate school, you’ve probably become accustomed to being asked this question. Throughout most of your tenure, answering this question typically involves a shrug and a look of despair. However, as the end nears (it eventually will) and you have a projected graduation date in mind that doesn’t make your PI giggle, be prepared for the second most asked question: do you know what you are doing next? If you answer this question with the same shrug and look of despair, continue reading…

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A General Guide to the Houston Area April 9, 2013

by Jonathan Flynn, Neuroscience PhD Candidate, Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy

Whether you are deciding where to live or where to go this weekend (besides the lab), knowing about the geography of Houston will help you. As with any city, Houston has developed its own vocabulary to refer to various places within and around it. However, simply throwing a bunch of jargon at you without context usually means that you will forget it.

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