Three VU doctoral students receive 2018 Gilliam Fellowships for Advanced Study

(image courtesy of Howard Hughes Medical Institute)

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute has awarded 2018 Gilliam Fellowships for Advanced Study to three Vanderbilt University doctoral students and their advisers.

The fellowship was created to ensure that a diverse and highly trained workforce is prepared to assume leadership roles in the sciences. The program approaches this by supporting promising graduate students from groups that are underrepresented in science and helping their thesis advisers build inclusive training environments.

Jordan Brown, a Ph.D. student in pharmacology, and adviser J. David Sweatt, Allan D. Bass Professor of Pharmacology; Francis Cambronero, a Ph.D. student in neuroscience, and adviser Angela Jefferson, professor of neurology; and Tolu Omokehinde, a Ph.D. student in cancer biology, and adviser Rachelle Johnson, assistant professor of medicine, are among 45 student-adviser pairs recognized nationally in 2018 for increasing diversity among the next generation of scientific leaders. These graduate students have “demonstrated high promise to become leaders in their field,” said David Asai, HHMI’s senior director for science education.

Each doctoral student-adviser pair will receive an annual award totaling $50,000— including a stipend, a training allowance and an institutional allowance—for up to three years. Through the fellowship, advisers will have access to mentor development activities, online trainings and in-person workshops aimed at developing their mentoring abilities and helping them better support the growth of their student’s research and professional skills. A portion of the award is also dedicated to supporting activities that foster diversity and inclusion in the advisers’ labs and departments.

“Vanderbilt is highly committed to recruiting and retaining exceptional and diverse graduate students who will become the scientific leaders of tomorrow,” said Larry Marnett, dean of basic sciences at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. “Creating an inclusive and supportive environment in which they can learn and grow is our highest priority. These fellowships reflect that commitment and will help advance our mission to increase diversity and inclusion in biomedical science.”

The Gilliam Fellowship for Advanced Study was created in honor of the late James H. Gilliam Jr., a respected business and civic leader who spent his life nurturing excellence and diversity in science and education.