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Wednesday, April 08, 2015
BEST Advisory Board honored for exemplary service

The six members of the Cornell BEST Advisory Board were honored April 7, 2015 for their dedication, exemplary service, and for shaping the Cornell University BEST Program.

From left: Kristine Kolkman Champion, Neurobiology; Tiffany St. Bernard, Biomedical Engineering; R. Alex Coots, Nutritional Sciences; Lena Bartell, Applied Engineering & Physics; Kenneth Yancey, Biological and Environmental Engineering; and Wisler Charles, Biological and Biomedical Sciences.

Avery August, Chair of Microbiology and Immunology and Principal Investigator on the NIH funded grant, awarded the certificates at the second annual Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training (BEST) Symposium. Citing their selfless hard work to create programming relevant to Cornell University doctoral students and postdoctoral scholars in STEM fields, August conferred the certificates, along with a ceremonial $2 bill 'to treat yourself and invite someone who is not familiar with the BEST Program to a beverage at the Big Red Barn mixer' event held the following week.

The Advisory Board was initially tasked with organizing four career panel discussions to increase awareness of career possibilities in each of the BEST tracks: Industry, Entrepreneurship & Management; Science Communication; Governance, Risk and Compliance; and Science Policy. However, their dynamism and creative ideas provided much more to the BEST Program. As a result of the leadership opportunities they capitalized on, the board invited many more individual speakers for intimate discussions with BEST participants, and even arranged for experiential opportunities for other BESTies.

Their hard work has paid off and allowed for professional and career development experiences for them and others that will complement ongoing research milestones. Specific examples include:

  • 2 days a week BESTernship experience at an early stage life sciences technology venture capital investment firm as a paid analyst; 
  • 6 months paid opportunity at a large multinational pharmaceutical firm in downstream processing;
  • a paid summer at a small science policy consulting practice in Washington D.C. to provide risk assessment of potential pandemic pathogens and develop policy recommendations;
  • 5-10 hours a week in a technology licensing group;
  • flexible hours on campus in risk management data analysis and development of best practices;
  • plans for company site visits, and more.

Fifteen other graduate students and postdocs received certificates as the most active BEST Participants, based on a point system of earned contributions and involvement in BEST Program activities. They emanate from STEM fields in the colleges of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Arts and Sciences, Engineering, Human Ecology, and Veterinary Medicine. Kudos to everyone involved for making the BEST Program a success! For more accomplishments, please peruse the first annual report of the BEST Program.