Alireza Edraki

Alireza Edraki

Alireza Edraki is a PhD candidate at the RNA Therapeutics Institute at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He received his B.S in Biological Sciences from Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. His research interests are evolution, RNA biology and CRISPR gene editing. Ali is passionate about writing and teaching science. He started teaching when he was 16, and has been teaching ever since. His goal is to become a science educator, to teach the public about the wonders of science.

Gary McDowell had a highly productive scientific career that included studying at the University of Cambridge and two postdocs in Boston. He discovered that research can be highly competitive and cutthroat, and realized that these problems were not limited to a particular lab or institution but rather the entire scientific enterprise. With a group of postdocs, Gary organized events to discuss challenges facing junior scientists and now he is Executive Director of a nonprofit that focuses on improving the scientific research endeavor.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017 11:28

The Art of Acing the Qualifying Exam

Most graduate programs have some form of a qualifying exam (QE) or preliminary exam. Generally it consists of writing a proposal and defending it in front of a committee of faculty members. Many students dread it for months, but it’s an opportunity to learn through reading literature and asking for feedback from your peers. Learn how to pass the exam and fully enjoy the experience.

Modern science is built on collaborations and it is no doubt that successful collaborations enrich the scientific process. If you look at recent scientific breakthroughs, such as the creation of the HPV vaccine, identification of the virus causing SARS, or detection of gravitational waves, almost all of them are the results of international collaborations. We discuss how to set up successful scientific collaborations, which includes assessing collaborator’s personality style and setting up ground rules of the collaboration. Finally, we discuss the two most important factors of collaboration – communication and trust.

Your first year of graduate school will probably consist of taking classes and doing lab rotations, a trial period to assess a lab and its people, while they assess you, to determine if it’s a good match. Rotations are like dating for a long-term relationship but with research and mentors. How many rotations do you do? How do you pick rotation labs? And, how long do you stay?