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Volume 1, Issue 2, December 2009

The GSO News

Medical College of Georgia Graduate Student Organization

Inside this Issue Student Health Insurance Update


GSO Volleyball Team Goes Undefeated!


What is Alpha Upsilon Phi?


Alumni Student Spotlight


Current Student Spotlight


Student Accomplishments


Game Night a Success


Happy Holidays


GSO News would like to extend congratulations to all MS, MSN and Ph. D. students who will be graduating on December 11th. We wish you all the best in your future endeavors and look forward to hearing of your successes in the future!

The GSO News

Student Health Insurance Update Samuel Herberg

As was recently brought to your attention, the Pearce & Pearce student health insurance plan underwent significant changes that took effect August 1, 2009. These changes were mandated by the Board of Regents (BOR), which selects the plan for each of the schools in the University System of Georgia (USG). These changes included a raise in the maximum out of pocket expenditure from $2,500/year to $10,000/year and a decrease in the maximum benefit for dependents from $300,000/year to $50,000/ year. This information was disseminated by email to all graduate students and was also shared at the SGA meeting called on October 26 to specifically address these changes. At the meeting, a vote was cast to accept the rider that increased the premium by $87 so that the maximum out of pocket expenditure would be restored to its original level. On October 30, Dr. Goldstein, Senior Vice President Academic Affairs & Provost at MCG, approved to add the rider in order to decrease the maximum out of pocket expenditure on the student health insurance plan to $2,500 for all enrolled MCG students

under the Pearce & Pearce health insurance plan. Moreover, adding a rider for the spring semester will be retroactive to any claims in the current fall semester. This is a significant achievement for all students at MCG and we would like to thank all of you for participating in the discussions that eventually helped to resolve the issue! However, keep in mind, the $87 will be added to the spring semester fee. As of today, we have not been able to find a satisfying solution that would increase the maximum benefits per year from the current $50,000 to its original level, but be assured that this issue continues to be a focal point of ongoing discussions. What is great to have learned, from the recent discussions with USG officials and GSO representatives of other Georgia universities, is that MCG has a remarkably low rate of claim denials, thanks to the dedicated work of our Student Health Center staff! Finally, please check your email periodically for updates on Pearce & Pearce related information. Let’s all take this example of successful teamwork to feel encouraged for making our voice be heard on important issues! Happy healthy holidays! O

GSO Volleyball Team goes Undefeated!

Colleen Carey (with reporting by Scott Webster) This fall members of ‘Like Metal to the Magnet’, the Graduate Student Organization’s Intramural volleyball team was a force to be reckoned with! The team, made up of graduate students from the Ph.D, Biostatistics and Nursing programs went undefeated both in the regular season and the playoffs. In their final match they took on a strong team from the MCG Physical Therapy program, losing the first set and then rallying to take the remaining sets and win the match. Team captain Scott Webster shares that this was an exciting and rewarding experience and he hopes that their success encourages more of the graduate students to play intramural sports in the future. Additional team members were: Lee Cromwell, Ryan Bates, Lee Phommachanh, Helen Bosovik, Katie Chrismer, Courtney Wimmer, and Elizabeth Hansford. As you see them in passing give them a congratulatory high-five on their awesome season! We look forward to hearing more exciting intramural sport updates, keep up the great work! O

The GSO News

What is Alpha Upsilon Phi? Colleen Carey In the last issue, many of you may have noticed reference to Alpha Upsilon Phi in the article spotlighting Anh Le. What we have come to find, however is that not many of you actually know what the organization is, so what better way to introduce it than in GSO News! Alpha Upsilon Phi takes meaning from the Greek letters which represent the following: •Leadership A (archigia) •Service Y (ypiresia) •Friendship Φ (filia) AUPhi, as it is often called, was established as a means to connect those individuals seeking the opportunity to be involved in community service with providers to help them in doing so. By providing increased accessibility to the community service information and activities that are available, AUP promotes awareness, and encourages participation in volunteer activities among the MCG community. There are various reasons for which one may choose to serve, and some of these include the opportunity to network with other students, faculty and staff, be involved in leadership activities, become exposed to diverse people, places and situations, personal emotional growth and maturity, resume building roles and participation and most importantly, the ability to be involved with a program that has in some way helped to make a difference in someone else’s life.

The Alpha Upsilon Phi Mission Statement, as provided by Dr. Kevin Frazier, Faculty Advisor of the organization is as follows: “The purpose of Alpha Upsilon Phi is to oversee, promote, and reward service and leadership efforts by students, faculty, and staff of the Medical College of Georgia. We believe service and leadership are essential experiences in the development of well-rounded health care professionals. We anticipate an expansion of the service and leadership opportunities already available and a richer sense of campus culture as we work together to serve our community.” This organization is a component of the Medical College of Georgia’s Student Government Association that seeks to honor and recognize individuals who contribute to the campus and to the community. Based on involvement there are three Service Award Levels; Meritorious, Distinguished, and Outstanding, which are celebrated at an annual awards ceremony. Additionally, each year graduating students in each school are asked to provide accounts of any service and leadership activities that they have been involved in during their time at MCG, and those students that are chosen as having demonstrated exceptional service and leadership accomplishments will also be honored! Whether it’s your first year here at MCG, or last, it is never too late to start your involvement in the community and your Service and to“Alpha”, pg. 6 

Alumni Spotlight Tristan Cummings Jessica Osmond

Tristan Cummings is a 2008 graduate of the Medical Illustration Program. There were two primary reasons affecting his decision to attend MCG. The first was that MCG’s program provides the opportunity to learn the business side of medical illustration, and the second was the opportunity to work with actual clients who have real projects. While at MCG, Tristan met his wife and formed many rewarding relationships with classmates and professors. He explained, “The staff at MCG is the most selfless group of individuals I have ever met. They keep up with technology and share every scrap of information with their students, as well as teaching us all of their secrets that have made them successful in their own careers.” He was very involved on campus, serving as Medical Illustration Class President from 2007-2008, as well as being a GSO and SGA representative during his time here. Tristan also participated in “almost every school event where free food and entertainment were served.”

Thomas Direct, a company specializing in pharmaceutical advertising. He is involved in production and occasionally has the opportunity to interact with large clients in New York City. Beyond an exciting work environment, Tristan also lives about three miles from Manhattan and enjoys his view of New York’s skyline.  Tristan’s advice for current students is to “draw, draw, draw.” He adds, “Pay attention to the business side of illustration…Knowing how to interview and negotiate will not only land you in a place where you can build a future, but it will also ensure that you have your career path strongly in your own hands. Your future employers will respect you and value your talents more if you can show them that you understand how their business works.” O

submitted by Tristan Cummings

One week after graduation, Tristan began a prestigious internship at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. He described this experience, “The staff there opened their arms and knowledge to me as I spent the summer working on several projects. I actually illustrated two textbooks as well as an atlas, and I have to say that seeing your name in the credits of a book is one of the coolest feelings.” Following his internship, Tristan took a job in New Jersey at

The GSO News

a published textbook illustration by Cummings

Jessica Osmond

tre, Chief of the Renal Division at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Craig Brooks is an alumni of the Biomedical Sciences Program at MCG. He carried out his research project under the mentorship of Dr. Zheng Dong in the Department of Cellular Biology and Anatomy and defended his thesis in 2008. Craig’s research demonstrated that an alteration in mitochondrial morphology is a key factor in renal cell apoptosis during ischemic renal injury. He has continued to pursue research interests in renal function, working as a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University in the laboratory of Dr. Joseph Bonven-

There were two main factors in Craig’s decision to attend graduate school at MCG. The first was his positive experience in the STAR Program as an undergraduate student; the second factor was the common admissions process of the Biomedical Sciences Program that allowed him to explore his options before committing to a particular mentor or department. While at MCG, Craig met his wife Yang, also a former Biomedical Sciences student, and says this was one of the highlights of his experience at to“Craig”, pg. 5

submitted by Craig Brooks

Craig Brooks, PhD

The ‘Alumni Spotlight’ will continue to highlight alumni from departments within the School of Graduate Studies. If you would like to nominate someone to be featured please email us at with ‘Alumni Spotlight’ in the subject line.

photography by Moataz Elkasrawy

Current Student Spotlight

Chris Risher Jessica Osmond

Chris Risher is a Biomedical Sciences graduate student in the Neuroscience Program. He arrived at MCG in 2004 after obtaining a degree in Biological Sciences from The GSO News

Clemson University. Chris is originally from Virginia Beach, VA and chose to continue his education at MCG largely because of the core curriculum of the Biomedical Sciences Program. Chris is carrying out his thesis work in the laboratory of Dr. Sergei Kirov, where he is investigating the dynamics of neuronal and astroglial injury and recovery following the early spreading depolarization events of ischemic stroke. When asked about his most rewarding experience at MCG, Chris replied, “I can’t pinpoint just one thing. Certainly, the publication of my first 1st-author manuscript was a highlight; I even got the cover image for that issue of the journal.” He was also very excited to gain news of a score in the top 5th percentile for his recent pre-doctoral

fellowship application. Risher explained that has also been enriched by interactions with faculty and other students in the Neuroscience community at MCG. While at MCG, Chris has been involved in Brain Awareness Week activities through the Neuroscience Program. He has also enjoyed participating in various social events through GSO and SGA. Away from campus, Chris enjoys spending time with his wife Louise, a to“Chris”, pg. 6

In future issues the ‘Current Student Spotlight’ will continue to highlight current graduate students throughout each department in the School of Graduate Studies with regards to their current research. If you would like to nominate someone to be featured please email us at GSO@mcg. edu with ‘Student Spotlight’ in the subject line.

The GSO News would like to congratulate the following individuals on some recent accomplishments! all other MCG graduate students and their families the happiest of holidays this winter.

2nd VP. Thanks for sharing, and congratulations on your appointments to these positions!

Sunnie Hanson has shared some pictures from MCG SONAT at the GANS convention in October. Here she was elected as East District Director and Michelle Tovani was elected to the Public Relations Director position. Additionally, Reed Halterman was elected to the GANS board as the

Have some exciting news on academic accomplishments, marriage, births or photos from a conference or recent event to share? Email us at! O

photography by Sunnie Hnason

Congratulations to Jason and Holly Riley of Athens, Georgia on the birth of the newest addition to their family: Tovah Riley. Tovah was born on October 16, and is reported to be a healthy and happy baby girl! Jason is a first year student in the Clinical Nurse Leader program, and is one of many graduate students who balance and maintain marriage and children on top of their busy school schedules. CNL students wish the Riley family and

from“Craig”, pg. 4 MCG. He also enjoyed spending time with friends and participating in activities with his lab and the Cellular Biology and Anatomy Department. Craig says his experience in Dr. Dong’s lab prepared him well for his current position. Developing the ability to plan experiments and The GSO News

critically analyze results have been valuable skills for him as he transitioned to a new environment. Craig’s advice for current students is “Learn as many experimental techniques as you can while you are a student. I have found even doing an experiment once can help a lot down the road. Also, be willing to try new things and volunteer for

new projects and new experiments. Some of the most interesting projects I was involved in were ones I volunteered to try.” O

Game Night a Success Colleen Carey

The first GSO sponsored game night was a night full of good fun and friendly competition. A great group of graduate students came out to enjoy a Friday evening in, as games ranging from Clue to Mancala and even a Wii were played. This event served as a great way for those students who attended to relax while enjoying the company of their fellow classmates among the various programs here at MCG. We look forward to hosting another event such as this in the future. Please enjoy some of the photos that were taken that evening. O

arranged by Collen Carey


from “Chris”, pg. 4

from “Alpha”, pg. 2 Leadership Resume. We encourage all of you to get involved as these activities not only help to serve the community, but they also provide for having fun with colleagues as well! For more information please visit Additionally, a downloadable guideline for Service The GSO News

and Leadership Resume has been provided on the GSO homepage. O

fellow graduate student; his favorite pastime is listening to music. Chris’ future plans include a postdoctoral fellowship in academia, after which he hopes “to become an independent faculty researcher, supervising [his] own laboratory with a focus on the role of astrocytes in neurological disease.” GSO wishes Chris well in these endeavors! O 

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Students of MCG GSO

Graduate Student Organization School of Graduate Studies Medical College of Georgia 1120 15th St. CJ 2201 Augusta, GA 30912-1500


The GSO News


Moataz (Taz) Elkasrawy Jessica Osmond

Samuel Herberg Paramita Pati

December 2009 - GSO News  
December 2009 - GSO News  

Volume I, Issue II