HGSAC Chair Thanked as Term Wraps Up

Outgoing Graduate Adviser to the Huck Institutes Maria Isabel da Silva was recognized by the Executive Board for her leadership during the COVID-hit 2020-21 Academic Year.

Jim Marden, Troy Ott, Andrew Read, Maria Solares, Isabel da Silva standing outside the Huck Life Sciences Building. Isabel is holding a plaque

Maria Isabel da Silva, outgoing Chair of the Huck Graduate Student Advisory Committee (HGSAC), wrapped up a challenging year leading the graduate student advocacy organization by receiving an award for her service. Isabel was thanked by senior Huck leadership for her outstanding efforts during the COVID-modified 2020-21 Academic Year.

The mission of HGSAC is to represent the graduate students in the Huck-supported intercollege and BMMB graduate programs by promoting their interests and advocating on important issues. Da Silva, a doctoral student in the Integrative and Biomedical Physiology graduate program, was responsible for coordinating committee activities—including its marquee event, the student-run  Life Sciences Symposium. Because of COVID restrictions, the 5th annual event was conducted virtually.

“I am so pleased and impressed by the way Isabel was able to lead the HGSAC over this difficult last year,” said Troy Ott, an Associate Director in the Huck and Isabel’s doctoral mentor. “She managed the challenges with creativity and energy enabling the HGSAC to continue to support and advocate for the graduate students.”

He further asserted: “equally impressive was her ability to complete a series of challenging experiments during this same time. I want to extend my sincere thanks to Isabel and welcome the incoming Chair Maria Solares.”

Da Silva was thanked by Huck Director Andrew Read, members of the Huck Executive Board, and Graduate Programs Coordinator Dana Coval-Dinant. She was presented with plaque in recognition of her service during a short, informal handover to her successor, Maria Solares, who is a grad student in the Molecular, Cellular, and Integrative Biosciences graduate program. Maria is a member of Deb Kelly’s lab and a researcher in the Center for Structural Oncology.

“I am honored to be the incoming HGSAC chair, especially after Maria Isabel,” said Solares. “We worked closely together last year to bring to Huck students diverse speakers, workshops, and events that catered to our diverse audience. Through this collaboration, she imparted on me a passion for the work we do as a group that I only hope I can pass along to other members and potentially the next HGSAC leaders.”

Maria continued, “I want to keep that passion and momentum going. We want to keep offering a variety of events and workshops for students, and this year we will focus our attention on science communication. The world is only getting smaller with social media, and with misinformation becoming an increasingly more important issue, we need to make sure future scientists and leaders are well-equipped to deal with this. I want to bring speakers that can aid students become better communicators and mentors, as well as provide more in- person opportunities to network within Penn State to practice these skills.”

“HGSAC’s future is bright, and I am looking forward to spearheading the organization this year!”