From the desk of Vicky Prince

Spring Quarter in pictures

We bring you a quarter of celebration in this newsletter.  Please enjoy our catalog of pictures showing the EE Just symposium where Kenneth Manning spoke to a capacity crowd in KCBD 1103 on the challenges met by EE Just and his legacy to biology; the joyous celebration in early June with our dinner for 2017-18 graduates at the Drake Hotel and the Divisional Academic Ceremony where Diane Lipscombe reminded everyone that there are many helping hands extended on the way to the PhD; and the beauty of our campus in springtime.

The road to a PhD has many guideposts

We celebrated all our newly awarded PhDs at the Divisional Academic Ceremony held in the Logan Center for the Arts on Friday, June 8, 2018.  There have been 70 PhD graduates this year and 37 received their hood, ceremoniously placed by a family member, a valued colleague, a research mentor, or the faculty marshal, Allan Drummond.  This blue PhD hood is a gift from the Medical and Biological Sciences Alumni Association (MBSAA)

Diane Lipscombe
gave the keynote address, which is included below. Her talk emphasized the importance of taking your own path, whether through a scientific career or through life. It’s a rare individual who takes an entirely linear route, and for many the tangents and curves are what make the journey interesting and meaningful. In Dr. Lipscombe’s words: It’s your choice.


I want to first congratulate all the graduates here. What a beautiful day and what an incredible accomplishment
You made it - take a deep breathe, enjoy, remember this moment.
You made it without permanently alienating your friends, family - at least the ones who are here.
And to your family and friends - you made it too.
This milestones that you are celebrating with these amazing graduates are made so much more meaningful and - so much more possible with your support, patience and encouragement.
So you are now Doctors of Philosophy in the discipline of Biology.

  • You’ve learned to acronym speak
  • You are all one degree hotter than last year.
  • And you are part of an elite group who can build complete sentences with acronyms
  • You’ve doubled the number of people in this world who know as much about your dissertation thesis as you do.
  • And you can stop reading PhD Comics and start to read the ones in The New Yorker

On your journey toward your degree……...
You’ve laughed, cried, fallen in love, fallen out of love, felt the exhilaration of discovery and the crushing pain of that one last experiment or finding that one last paper that should have solidified your thesis defense date was the the first crack in the wall of your favorite hypothesis.
But - here you are - as graduates of the University of Chicago - walking in the footsteps of some of the most remarkable scholars in the world
And the questions shifted overnight from when is your defense to
what are you doing now - what is your future as a PhD?
It’s your Choice
Some of you know, some of you don’t,
some of you will be at the bench, some of you won’t
Some of you will take the road less travelled
Some of you have cleared your path
But the world needs scientists in all places and you are leading the way graduating to
In setting policy that is data driven, based on scientific fact
In consulting
In teaching
And in research
Who you become is Your Choice
Your success is not yours alone
I am a granddaughter, a daughter, a spouse, a mother, a friend, a student, a mentor and teacher, a builder, a scientist, and I only follow on the dance floor.
I am the granddaughter of a cleaner, a cook, a fisherman and a waiter. Fiercely independent, my grandma used to tell me I deserve my PhD because I worked so hard for it, she cleaned other people’s clothes and lived in a one room tenement.
I am the daughter of a secretary and everyone’s best friend, my mum is a giver and carer. She tells me I deserve everything that I have because I’ve worked so hard, she endured heartbreak and tragedy, and emerged.
At 16,I was elected head girl of the school, and then leapt from the straight path that would have been (in retrospect) so easy to follow, but this was 1976, and along with Pink Floyd I erected a wall between me and the things and the people that I loved.
By a stroke of  luck, I was hired as a lab technician at Burroughs Wellcome in Kent in the lab of Sir James Black, Nobel laureate. And that was the beginning of my scientific career. Surrounded by scientist, mathematics, biologists, and experimental science - I found my passion but Jim Black gave me his outstretched hand and I took it.
Within a year I was studying at the other UC, University College in London.
Brick by brick, family, friends, mentors and strangers gave me the courage and most of all the confidence to tear down the wall and a world opened up to me that I didn’t know existed.
Who you become is your Choice
Don’t follow the crowd no matter how inviting that low energy well looks, the climb is much more exciting
I want to leave you with the last Stanzas of a comical piece by WH Auden a brilliant writer who
Wrestled with inner antagonists the logic of day and the impulse of night.
Leave you with the last stanzas of a poem by W H Auden - a of the Individual, the maverick. This was written in 1946 just after the end of World War II. It was his tongue in cheek warning to be a rebel
WH Auden
“Under Which Lyre” a set of commandments for free spirits who refuse to fall into line:
Thou shalt not do as the dean pleases,
Thou shalt not write thy doctor’s thesis
        On education,
Thou shalt not worship projects nor
Shalt thou or thine bow down before
Thou shalt not answer questionnaires
Or quizzes upon World-Affairs,
        Nor with compliance
Take any test. Thou shalt not sit
With statisticians nor commit
        A social science.
Between the chances choose the odd:
Read the New Yorker;....
W H. Auden 1946


The eminent EE Just

On April 18, 2018, Dr. Kenneth Manning, Thomas Meloy Professor of Rhetoric and the History of Science at MIT and author of the definitive biography of Just, Black Apollo of Science: The Life of Ernest Everett Just, joined the UChicago community for a day-long celebration of the pioneering developmental biologist, Dr. Ernest Everett Just (PhD 1916). Just performed much of his seminal research at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) and worked with UChicago professor and later dean of the Biological Sciences Division, Frank Lillie. As the head of Physiology at Howard University Medical School, Just was the first awardee of the NAACP’s highest honor, the Spingarn Medal, in 1915 in recognition of his research.


Professor Manning opened his visit with a lunch workshop with History of Science students and Professor Robert J. Richards, Morris Fishbein Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Science and Medicine. He then joined the Multicultural Graduate Community (MGC) and members of the E. E. Just Working Group for an informal Diversity in Science roundtable in the newly renovated E. E. Just Room in Erman Biology Center.  Discussion also included the portrait commissioned by the working group to be completed by eminent local artist Stephen Flemister.

As the centerpiece of his visit, Manning presented for an audience comprised of members of the BSD administration, faculty and students, as well as the larger university community and members of Just’s two fraternities, Omega Psi Phi and Sigma Pi Phi,  a discussion Just’s experience as an African-American scientist and his determination to establish a career as an independent research scientist in the face of rooted and endemic racism. Manning avowed that he was deeply impressed with UChicago’s decision to dedicate a room on campus in Just’s honor, and given Just’s commitment to a career as a research scientist, he believed Just would also have appreciated the honor.

Manning did not deliver a traditional lecture. Evolutionary Biology PhD student and MGC member Sophia Carryl commented, "He instead did a type of storytelling…almost like an oracle guiding us through the life and experiences of EE Just. I loved every minute of it."  This event can still be viewed on Facebook.

On behalf of their members, fraternity leaders, Dr Willis Lonzer PhD (the Boule, Sigma Pi Phi) and Kenneth Barnes (Omega Psi Phi) commended UChicago in recognizing Just’s achievements, and noted how he had inspired their own desire to achieve success. Afterward, Manning met with faculty, students and fraternity members, as well as artist Stephen Flemister, at the Smart Museum to celebrate the dedication of a Just room and the commencement of Just’s portrait, documented by the artist at

Additional pictures from the celebration posted by the Iota Chapter of Omega Psi Phi are on display here.

New Alumni

The most recent BSD graduates can be seen at After UChicago.

Two BSD students visit with Nobel laureates

Ana Beiriger and Julio Miranda spend the end of June at the 2018 Lindau Nobel Laureate meeting in Bavaria, Germany. 

Our students joined more than 600 young scientists from around the world.  This program immerses the participants in a dialogue on the important achievements and problems.  Please see the website for more information on this invaluable opportunity.

F30, F31, F32 deadlines

August 8 is the next due date for Ruth L. Kirschestein Individual National Research Service Awards including F30, F31 and F32 applications. 

The next deadline will be December 8.  OGPA sponsored a workshop for predoc applications in February 2018 and have posted the slides to be used as a good starting point.
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