Presentation of White Lab Coats Signifies the Next Step for Doctoral Candidates

By Nathan Tidwell

Faculty, family, mentors, program directors and students gathered Sept. 11 at the I. Dodd Wilson Education Building. Students were presented with white lab coats, an acknowledgement of passing the Ph.D. qualifying exam and the beginning of research on their dissertation.


The research induction ceremony is a happy time for faculty, family, and students.Image by Bryan Clifton

“This is a very special ceremony in the life of a graduate student,” said Antiño Allen, Ph.D., associate dean for Pipeline and Career Development in the Graduate School and a professor in the College of Pharmacy, who chaired the event. “I truly understand how much this means to you, because I still remember two of the questions from my written exam.”

“For the family members, this is a great opportunity to see a great achievement for your student,” Allen added.

The UAMS graduate faculty consists of members from the College of Health Professionals, College of Medicine, College of Nursing, College of Pharmacy and the College of Public Health.

The doctoral candidates were pleased to reach this point in their careers.

LeKivia Cobb

LeKivia Cobb, center, with her mentor Karl W. Boehme, Ph.D., and Antiño Allen, Ph.D.Image by Bryan Clifton

“I’m really excited about continuing my journey as a doctoral student,” said Christina Joshua, who completed her undergraduate work at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. “I’m thankful to my advisors and mentors along the way, and to my family for all of their support. I see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

“It’s a major milestone in my career, said Shahed Sufian, who is in health systems and services research. “The coursework and research I’ve done the past two years has paid off. It’s a feeling of achievement.”

The white coat is an incentive for Jason T. Lewis, who completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

“I feel really good. I’ve worked hard to get to this point. It’s exciting — it’s a different world going from not having to go to class, but you have deadlines to meet and things to work on. Having this white coat gives you motivation to start off on the right foot.”

Katherine Deck

Katherine Deck receives her white coat from Shengyu, Ph.D., while Paul Prather, Ph.D., looks on.Image by Nathan Tidwell

Bioinformatics candidates Yahaya Adams and E. Nathalle Pineda are ready to get going.

“It feels like jumping onto a highway — I’m very excited,” Adams said. “There are no classes now — it’s a different feeling. You’re waking up and just coming to the lab to do your work.”

“I’m really happy,” said Pineda. “I’m proud of myself for all of the things I went through to get here.”

For the mentors, there’s a feeling of satisfaction seeing their students move forward.

“I happy to see my student progress,” said Jesus Delgado-Calle, Ph.D., an associate professor in the College of Medicine Department of Physiology and Cell Biology. “I’m looking forward what he’s going to do in the next three years.”

“It’s neat as a mentor to see how your student progresses, said Samantha Kendrick, Ph.D., a professor in the College of Medicine Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. “This is a really big milestone and I’m excited to see what Mason (McCrury) has in store for the next three years.”

In addition to the mentors, program and track directors play an important role at this stage in the candidates’ careers.

Rebekah Thacker

Dean of the College Nursing Patricia Cowan, Ph.D., mentor Judy Weber, Ph.D., doctoral candidate Rebekah Thacker, and Antiño Allen, Ph.D.Image by Bryan Clifton

“I get to see the students come into a research program with boundless opportunities,” said Robert Eoff, Ph.D., professor and track director for biochemistry and molecular biology. “They can go in all different directions in terms of their research. I try to help shepherd them into what they’re passionate about. It’s satisfying to see to not only your own students, but other students in the program.”

After the candidates were presented with their coats, Allen led the recital of the Affirmation of Scientists, which includes a pledge to represent science in an honorable manner and to acknowledge and honor scientists who preceded them.

Specific doctoral programs, program directors, track directors, Ph.D. candidates, and mentors follow:

Program Directors: Cesar Compadre, Ph.D., Mary Yang, Ph.D.

  • Yahaya Adams (Darin E. Jones, Ph.D.)
  • Kevin Chappell (Stephanie Byrum, Ph.D.)
  • Kanishka Manna (Stephanie Byrum, Ph.D.)
  • E. Nathalle Pineda (Rupak Pathak, Ph.D.)

Biomedical Informatics
Program Director: Horacio Gomez-Acevedo, Ph.D.

  • Cilia Zayas (Mathias Brochhausen, Ph.D.)

Program Director: Mohammed Orloff, Ph.D.

  • Alisha Crump (Benjamin Amick, Ph.D.)
  • Lydia Famuyide (Wendy Nembhard, Ph.D.)
  • Christina Joshua (Benjamin Amick, Ph.D.)

Graduate Program in Interdisciplinary Biomedical Sciences
Program Director: Robert E. McGehee, Jr., Ph.D.

Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
Track Director: Robert Eoff, Ph.D.

  • Mason McCrury (Samantha Kendrick, Ph.D.)
  • Randall R. Rainwater (Marie Burdine, Ph.D.)
  • Reham S. Sewilam (Robert Eoff, Ph.D.)

Cell Biology & Physiology
Track Director: Rosalia Simmen, Ph.D.

  • Aric Anloague (Jesus Delgado-Calle, Ph.D.)
  • Meghan R. Crimmins (Aline Andres, Ph.D.)

Microbiology & Immunology
Track Director: Jon Blevins, Ph.D.

  • Het Adhvaryu (Daniel Voth, Ph.D.)
  • LeKivia C. Cobb (Karl W. Boehme, Ph.D.)
  • Alison Gouch (Jason Stumhofer, Ph.D.)
  • Emily J. Robbs (Matthew Jorgenson, Ph.D.)

Track Director: Mark Mennemeier, Ph.D.

  • Carol A. Morris (Abdelrahman Fouda, Ph.D.)
  • Kayleigh A. Rodriguez (Kimberly Stephens, Ph.D.)

Pharmacology, Toxicology, & Experimental Therapeutics
Track Director: Paul Prather, Ph.D.

  • Katherine Deck (Shengyu Mu, Ph.D.)
  • Madison K. McGraw (Nirmala Parajuli, Ph.D.)
  • Christoph Mora (Shengyu Mu, Ph.D.)
  • Laura Osborn (Kimberly Stephens, Ph.D.)

Health Promotion & Prevention Research
Program Director: S. Alexandra Marshall, Ph.D.

  • Shun Ingram (Keneshia Bryant-Moore, Ph.D., and George Pro, Ph.D.)
  • Audrey E. Martinez (Carol Cornell, Ph.D., and Taren Swindle, Ph.D.)

Health Systems & Services Research
Program Director: Anthony Goudie, Ph.D.

  • Shahed Sufian (Anthony Goudie, Ph.D.)

Nursing Science
Program Directors: Patricia Cowan, Ph.D., and Martha Rojo, Ph.D.

  • Jonathan Baxter (Corey Nagel, Ph.D.)
  • Dominique Gomez DuBois (Patricia Cowan, Ph.D.)
  • Jason T. Lewis (Corey Nagel, Ph.D.)
  • Rebekah A. Thacker (Judy Weber, Ph.D.)

Pharmaceutical Evaluation & Policy
Program Director: Jacob Painter, Pharm.D., Ph.D.

  • Allen M. Smith (Brad Martin, Ph.D.)
  • Filmon T. Wolde (Corey Hayes, Pharm.D., Ph.D., MHA)

Pharmaceutical Sciences
Program Director: Antiño Allen, Ph.D.

  • Baku Acharya (Brendan Frett, Ph.D.)