The Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences

Huck Graduate Student Advisory Committee

The Huck Graduate Student Advisory Committee (HGSAC) was started in January 2015 and consists of graduate student representatives from each of the six graduate programs in the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences as well as the BMMB graduate program (Eberly College of Science). This committee is made up of a maximum of 15 students, including the Chair and two representatives from each program.


Our Mission:


The mission of the Huck Graduate Student Advisory Committee (HGSAC) is to represent the graduate students of the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences by promoting their interests and advocating on important issues. Our visions are in line with those of the Huck Institutes as we aim to:


  • Act as a voice of the graduate student body by facilitating communication among students, faculty, and administration


  • Ensure that Huck students are prepared for the realities of the future of science by preparing them for careers both inside and outside of academia


  • Provide resources to strengthen leadership, communication, and teamwork skills by organizing networking events and professional development activities to help students succeed in their careers


  • Facilitate interaction and develop stronger links between individual Huck graduate programs, Huck programs and other departmental programs, and Huck students and other student organizations both on a professional and social level


  • Assist graduate students financially by acting as a source of funding for Huck student groups



Groups organized by the HGSAC:




Upcoming Events at Penn State:




Events the HGSAC has organized:


  • SciPhD Workshop: in May 2015, we organized a half-day workshop focused on developing your personal brand, creating targeted resumes and cover letters, learning to demystify job ads, doing a self-assessment of business competencies, and building your network. A total of 46 graduate student and postdocs from the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences and the BMB department attended.



  • Online Profiles Workshop with Penn State Career Services: discussed how to set up online profiles, such as LinkedIn, and use them for your career


  • Huck student town hall meetings held 1-2 times a year to gather feedback on events we are organizing


  • Social events, including a summer retreat BBQ at Whipple Dam, coffee hours, and happy hours



Are you part of a student group that wants to work with the HGSAC to co-sponsor an event? Contact us at to get in touch with our External Communications subcommitee members!



Current members:


Chair: Kelly Ness (Physiology)


Co-Chair: Jasmine Caulfield (Neuroscience)


Secretary: Lila Rieber (Bioinformatics & Genomics)


Neuroscience: Cassandra Beck, Ahmad Taha, and Jasmine Caulfield (Co-Chair)


Bioinformatics & Genomics: Mehreen Mughal and Lila Rieber (Secretary)


BMMB: Mackenzie Shipley and Zachary Mandell


MCIBS+: Di (Bruce) Chen and Hillary Figler


Physiology: James Hester, Cesar De Jeronimo, and Kelly Ness


Plant Biology: Chris Strock


Committee members are chosen (by application process) in September during the Fall semester with terms lasting for one full year. We currently have two available spots open on the committee, email if you are interested in joining!



The Policies and Procedures document of the HGSAC can be found here.