COVID-19: UPDATE FROM THE GSBS

As our response to COVID-19 continues to evolve, please stay tuned to regular communications from the Office of the President/UTMB Broadcasts and monitor the UTMB COVID-19 website for updates: www.utmb.edu/COVID-19. This page has been regularly updated with videos, FAQs, and additional information as developments are available.
A web page specific to students is available here: https://www.utmb.edu/covid-19/students-parents. We are endeavoring to stay in close communication with you regarding updates as the situation develops.

Please review the information to the right for guidance regarding GSBS coursework and research.

COVID-19-Advice-List

In preparation for the Spring 2021 academic term and out of an abundance of caution, the first two weeks of the spring term will be conducted virtually. Starting January 21st (subject to change), courses may be held using the current hybrid approach of face-to-face and/or online teaching methods. Face-to-face classes should continue to adhere to room capacity requirements to allow for social distancing. For individuals with concerns attending class face-to-face, accommodations should be made with course directors to allow for attendance virtually. For questions or concerns, please contact any of the GSBS deans.

Below are several different possibilities for virtual instruction, from easiest to more complex/”true” online:

  1. If you have classes of a small size, you can email PowerPoints to your students or share them in Dropbox or some equivalent and talk through them via teleconference.
  2. Similar to number 1, share your PowerPoints via Skype, Zoom, or Go to Meeting. If you need help figuring this out, please contact your coordinator first, and if you need additional help, contact Dr. Kristen Peek directly.
  3. Even with larger courses, option 2 is possible. It becomes more complicated to have student discussion, but still feasible.
  4. Start to move your courses online - you can use Panopto (i.e. Tegrity replacement, reference attached) to record your lectures with a PowerPoint on blackboard. With this option, students can move through the online material, and then you can use Skype or other virtual platform for student discussions. It may be most convenient for you to plan to use a desktop with microphone to record lectures. If you need to use equipment in a classroom (i.e. Levin 3.320/3.324), call Classroom Services at (409) 772-8980.
  5. Move content fully online – using Blackboard more fully with exams, quizzes, uploading papers, exercises, discussion board OR using SoftChalk (an online tool for virtual teaching – link below) to put materials online for students to view. If you use SoftChalk, you can post the link on Blackboard for your class. SoftChalk: https://www.utmb.edu/ar/academic-computing/learning-apps/softchalk

If you are interested in using SoftChalk to develop online learning materials, click the link above to get the activation key. The GSBS can provide training and examples. Please decide how you will handle your courses virtually and contact Dr. Kristen Peek at mkpeek@utmb.edu or 409-772-9143 as issues arise.

In preparation for the Spring 2021 academic term and out of an abundance of caution, the first two weeks of the spring term will be conducted virtually. Starting January 21st (subject to change), courses may be held using the current hybrid approach of face-to-face and/or online teaching methods. Face-to-face classes should continue to adhere to room capacity requirements to allow for social distancing. For individuals with concerns attending class face-to-face, accommodations should be made with course directors to allow for attendance virtually. For questions or concerns, please contact any of the GSBS deans.

For students who need to meet with research mentors, currently have scheduled research meetings or defenses, we are utilizing social distancing strategies. For research meetings, off campus committee members will need to join the meeting using Skype or can be emailed copies of slides/data before the meeting and then join the meeting by phone. On campus members can attend meetings in person, by Skype or by phone. Thesis or dissertation defenses will utilize the same methods mentioned above. Required documentation related to defense meetings can be mailed to GSBS. In regards to public defenses, please contact Dr. Joan Nichols (jnichols@utmb.edu) to discuss options.

There have been questions as to the status of graduate students as part of UTMB’s response to COVID-19. Graduate students are critical to research operations and with graduate assistantships will be classified as essential employees and available to work in research laboratories. Our primary concern will be to keep our students safe. We will recommend that students be on campus only to complete their work and then return home to continue their work. Some students may be able to pursue their research remotely and this would be ideal.

Please consult with your mentors for plans for experiments, ordering sufficient supplies, work that can be done from home, communications, etc. Members of the GSBS are in a unique position during this pandemic as many of our faculty and trainees are directly involved in research for COVID-19 response. Your course directors should be in communication with you regarding plans for virtual classes.

It is extremely important that we maintain a safe environment for all who come to our campus. As the holiday break draws near, I want to make everyone aware of additional measures we will be taking to help reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread upon your return to campus or clinical activities.

Following the break, we will require that all students be tested for COVID-19 no more than five days before their first scheduled activity either on campus or at UTMB clinical sites. At this time, we are coordinating details to provide testing for students at UTMB sites. We will also provide guidelines for those who wish to have testing done at another location. This information will be forthcoming in an email later this week. Students whose programs are 100 percent online will be exempt this requirement.

In addition to our ongoing practices of hand-washing, social distancing, and masking, testing is a measure that will help keep our campus safe. As an academic health science center, part of our mission is helping keep people safe from disease. We must set the example for our community for adherence to good public health practices. As you know, COVID-19 cases are at an all-time high; that trend unfortunately is expected to continue over the holidays. Everyone should behave as safely as possible and follow the guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control to reduce your risk of catching COVID-19 and spreading it to others.

I appreciate your cooperation on this matter. We will share additional details as soon as they are available.

Above all, the health and safety of our campus is our priority. Please follow recommended guidelines to help prevent the spread of illness. You may view the CDC’s recommended precautions at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/prevention.html. Sanitize frequently touched items (e.g. laptops, desktops, car keys, etc.). Social distancing (avoiding large crowds, maintaining 6 feet of distance, etc.) may also help limit the spread of the virus.

As a reminder, if you are sick, please stay home. Faculty, if your students are sick (with any illness), please tell them to stay home. If you are experiencing flu-like symptoms, listed below are UTMB sites designated for evaluation. Please call in advance of your arrival at the clinic. Phone numbers and addresses are available via the following link: https://www.utmb.edu/covid-19/patients.

  • UTMB Island West;
  • UTMB Urgent Care in Galveston;
  • UTMB Texas City Urgent Care Clinic;
  • UTMB Hwy 3 Pediatric and Adult Primary Care;
  • UTMB Angleton Danbury Clinic; and
  • UTMB Angleton Danbury Pediatric and Adult Primary Care

For telecommuting, information about logging into VPN and the required two-factor authentication is available at https://www.utmb.edu/is/divisions/operations/vpn-setup. The UTMB Help Desk may be contacted 24/7 at the below phone numbers to troubleshoot technical issues:

  • From On-campus: (409) 772-5200
  • From Galveston Area: (409) 772-5200
  • From 281 Area Code: (281) 554-1577
  • From All Other Areas: (888) 898-2401

Information about using Skype for videoconferencing is available at https://www.utmb.edu/sfb/. Those using UTMB equipment for telecommuting should ensure that you coordinate with your department administration and complete any necessary loan agreement forms.

The application and admissions process for GSBS students entering in the fall term will continue, complying with University policies for maintaining safety of faculty and staff. Applications to the GSBS will continue to be evaluated, and request for admission packets will be handled as they have been. However, GSBS staff will be working remotely, so application packets will need to be sent to Laura Teed (lcteed@utmb.edu) electronically.

Following University policy, please do NOT invite any recruits on to campus, either for interviews or for visits after they have accepted an offer for admission. We will work with HR and Enrollment Services to determine if and how matriculation procedures need to be modified.

For additional information for prospective students, please visit https://www.utmb.edu/gsbs/prospective-students/ps-home.

The Graduate School will be transitioning office support services for our faculty and trainees to a virtual format as of Monday, March 16th until further notice. Please be assured that our staff remain ready to assist you during standard business hours: Monday through Friday, 8:00 am-5:00 pm. Provided below is a listing of phone and email contacts where staff members may be reached. A full listing of GSBS contacts which includes program directors and coordinators is attached.

Graduate School Staff

Name

Email

Claiborne Fant

cmfant@utmb.edu

Rose Garcia

rosgarci@utmb.edu

Shibani Karovalia

shkarova@utmb.edu

Jessica Linton

jelinton@utmb.edu

Denise Reed

djreed@utmb.edu

Chris Rhodes

chmrhode@utmb.edu

Laura Teed

lcteed@utmb.edu

GSBS Main Line: 409-772-2665


Contact information for GSBS leadership is provided below:

Graduate School Leadership

Name

Email

Dr. David Niesel

dniesel@utmb.edu

Dr. Joan Nichols

jnichols@utmb.edu

Dr. Kristen Peek

mkpeek@utmb.edu

Dr. Daniel Jupiter

dajupite@utmb.edu

Dr. Tracy Toliver

ttoliver@utmb.edu


The Graduate School is committed to our faculty and trainees and if you have any questions or concerns during this time, please do not hesitate to contact any of our leadership or staff. We will work together so that educational activities and research continue as best as possible while ensuring that our students, staff, and faculty are safe. Take care of yourselves and should you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us.


GSBS News

Congratulations!

Congratulations to Dr. Tracy Toliver-Kinsky, director of the BBSC and professor in the Department of Anesthesiology, on her election into The University of Texas Kenneth I. Shine, M.D., Academy of Health Science Education (Shine Academy). The Shine Academy supports and promotes excellence in all aspects of health science education, educational scholarship and leadership. Congratulations Dr. Toliver-Kinsky!

Career Exploration Network

A news story on the UT System home page discussed the successful piloting of a virtual networking program aimed at aiding graduate students and postdocs in pursuing the next steps in their careers. The initiative was developed with the 6 University of Texas System Health Institutions, and both UTMB students and alumni participated.

Alumni News

Four outstanding UTMB scientists have been named among Cell Mentor’s “1,000 Inspiring Black Scientists in America.” Congratulations to Dr. Donald Bouyer, Dr. Monique Ferguson (GSBS – M&I ’98), Dr. Brionna Davis-Reyes (GSBS – HPTM ’20), and Dr. Clifford Houston. #WeAreUTMB #utmbalumni
Click here for the story

Dr. Heather Green Wooten (GSBS ’06 – Medical Humanities) will take over the role of Texas State Historical Association Interim Executive Director starting on January 18, 2021 and has been appointed Interim Executive Director by the TSHA Board of Directors.
Click here for the story

GSBS alumnus, Dr. Tom Marshburn (MMS ’97), has been chosen to fly to the International Space Station on SpaceX Crew Dragon spaceship this fall.
Click here for the story

Dr. Natasha Brooks , BMB graduate, was featured in the November 2020 edition of ASBMB Today. Click here for the story, starting on page 42.

Dr. Mary Guinan, GSBS alumna, professor emeritus and founding dean of the University of Nevada at Las Vegas (UNLV) School of Public Health, was honored with the naming of the Mary Guinan Room in the newly opened building to house the UNLV School of Public Health. Read more.

Dr. Anita C. Randolph, GSBS alumna from the Neuroscience Graduate Program, has been named the director of Community Engagement and Education for the newly established Masonic Institute for the Developing Brain (MIDB) at the University of Minnesota. Click here for the story.

NASA astronaut and UTMB alumnus, Serena Aunon-Chancellor (GSBS ’06 – MPH program) has been recognized as a Hispanic pioneer in medicine by the Association of American Medical Colleges during National Hispanic Heritage Month.

Past Alumni News Archive


Prospective Students

Opportunity: The Conacyt-ConTex Doctoral Fellowship

NIH Office of Intramural Training & Education Webinars and Events

The NIH Office of Intramural Training & Education is offering a series of webinars and small group discussions focused on helping undergraduate students, postbacs, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in the sciences develop the resilience needed to thrive in high-knowledge environments. For more information and to register for events, trainees can visit https://www.training.nih.gov and review the "Calendar of Events."

SACNAS Webinars

The Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics & Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) hosts webinars as part of its ongoing Insights To Success webinar series, where early to mid-career professionals share their personal journeys in STEM and lessons they learned along the way. For more information or to view previous webinars, visit https://www.sacnas.org/what-we-do/webinars/.


BioMedCAS

UTMB GSBS joins other schools in adopting the BioMedCAS system for processing applications to graduate school. See Liaison International's press release here: https://www.liaisonedu.com/news/liaisons-biomedcas-doubles-membership-in-its-third-cycle/

Student Spotlight

Focus on Mentoring

MPH Student Selected as 2020 Archer Fellow

Congratulations to Semira Solomon, one of our MPH students, for selection as a UT System ⁦‪‬⁩2020 Archer Fellow! She intends to spend her time in DC in working with Housing and Urban Development on a project related to health outcomes for children living in public housing.

The Archer Fellowship Program was established by the UT System in conjunction with former U.S. Representative Bill Archer as a way to bring highly motivated and accomplished students to Washington, DC, for a comprehensive academic and professional experience.

Candidacy Milestone

Congratulations to Ursela Christopherson for achieving candidacy for the PhD. Rachel is mentored by Dr. Elizabeth Lyons, in the Rehabilitation Sciences Program.

Congratulations to J Rachel SattlerJ for achieving candidacy for the PhD. Rachel is studying in the Experimental Pathology Program supervised by Dr. Slobodan Paessler.

Please join us in congratulating Joseph Thiriot for advancing to PhD candidacy. Joe works with Dr. Torres in the Microbiology and Immunology program.

Please join us in congratulating three of our PhD students on achieving candidacy: Samuel Mgubua is pursuing his PhD in Nursing, supervised by Dr. Carolynn Phillips; Olivia Solomon is in the Human Pathophysiology and Translational Medicine program, mentored by Dr. Gracie Vargas; and Zachary Watson is in the Cell Biology program, with supervisor Dr. Tom Green. Congratulations all!

Congratulations to Nikita Gupta for becoming a candidate for the PhD! Nikita is working with Dr. Maria Micci, in the Neuroscience program.

Congratulations to Rebecca Permar for achieving candidacy for the PhD! Rebecca is pursuing her PhD under the supervision on Dr. Anne Hudson Jones, in the Medical Humanities program.

Congratulations to Cody Bills for achieving candidacy for the PhD! Cody is pursuing his PhD under the supervision of Dr. Mariano Garcia-Blanco, in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

Are You New to GSBS?

Accepted Offer? What's Next?

GSBS 50-for-50 Initiative
The GSBS "50 For 50" Initiative!

The "GSBS 50 for 50" is an alumni-led initiative to raise $500,000 in graduate program specific support to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the GSBS in 2019. Ideally, the initiative will result in the establishment of a graduate program specific endowment for every graduate training program in the GSBS.

Alumni Videos

The Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (GSBS) celebrated its 50th Anniversary on October 18-19, 2019. Alumni from all five decades and from across the various training areas returned to UTMB to participate in the events. 1969 Alumna Dr. Mary Guinan, Founding Dean Emerita of the School of Public Health at The University of Nevada, Las Vegas, gave the keynote address entitled “Strengthening Science for a New Age.” In commemoration of the anniversary, a short video series was created to highlight thoughts from our faculty, students, alumni, and staff on the impact of the GSBS.


Alumni Symposium – Alumni

Alumni Symposium – Faculty

Alumni Symposium – Students

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