Jayne Aiken, PhD receives University of Colorado Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus Graduate School Outstanding Dissertation AwardAlaina Leverenz | Graduate School May 31, 2019
Aurora, Colorado – Dr. Jayne Aiken, recent graduate of the Cell Biology, Stem Cells, and Development PhD program at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, received the prestigious Outstanding Dissertation Award from the CU Denver | Anschutz Graduate School.
The Graduate School honors the recent graduate who produced the best dissertation and dissertation defense out of all graduates from the preceding three semesters. Nominations were submitted by faculty mentors and/or any members of a student's thesis committee and highlighted elements of the dissertation and defense that were truly outstanding. Only one doctoral student on the Anschutz Medical Campus receives this honor and the $500 certificate. A separate dissertation award is presented at CU Denver.
“It is just an amazing honor to be recognized,” said Dr. Jayne Aiken, “During my time here [at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus] I really tried to contribute to research and drive my field forward. I also really worked to give back to the scientific community and get involved.”
Dr. Aiken was nominated by the members of her thesis committee who summarize that “[Dr. Aiken’s] dissertation is the capstone of a truly remarkable graduate career, which includes an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, 6 publications, a BEST International Visiting Scientist Award, and oral presentations at national and international conferences, among other achievements.”
Dr. Aiken’s research reaches across disciplines to investigate the regulation of a brain cell’s cytoskeleton during development. Specifically, she sought to understand how mutations in tubulins give rise to brain malformations in human patients.
The nominators were impressed by the shear amount of work she was able to accomplish independently. They remark that, “This expansive project would be an impressive feat for an established lab; for a single graduate student, it is astonishing.”
Dr. Aiken’s nominators stress that she has “...an impressive ability to communicate scientific concepts, from general cell biology and neurodevelopment to her own research.”
These communication skills were honed through her many notable presentations, including: oral presentations at the annual meeting for the American Society of Cell Biology (ASCB) in 2018, the Front Range Neuroscience Meeting in 2017, the Front Range Cytoskeleton Meeting in 2014, and the Southwest regional meeting Society for Developmental Biology (SDB) in 2019 for which only a handful of students were selected to give talks; and poster presentations at 4 different ASCB meetings, 2 different SDB meetings, several regional meetings, the 2017 EMBO Neuronal Cytoskeleton Meeting in Chile, and the 2018 International Society for Stem Cell Research in Australia. She was also one of the four abstracts selected as the student award winner platform presentation at the 2017 Rocky Mountain Regional Neuroscience Group.
Dr. Aiken’s ability to effectively communicate science is also evident in her teaching and outreach activities.
She initiated an outreach program called “Cell Biology Day”, which engaged middle school students in the Denver and Aurora communities in hands-on cell biology lessons and activities.
In addition, Dr. Aiken delivered neurodevelopment lectures to undergraduate students at CU Colorado Springs and CU Denver, and to first-year graduate students at CU Anschutz.
“This has been an incredibly exciting part of my life, the dissertation defense and graduation. They are among the top days of my life and represent my greatest achievement so far” said Dr. Aiken.
Dr. Aiken is now moving on to her post-doctoral fellowship at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. At U of Penn, Dr. Aiken will be working with Dr. Erika L.F. Holzbaur in the field of neurobiology and continuing her research in brain development. She is hoping to further her career goals of becoming an academic professor.
On the topic of moving on after graduation,Dr. Aiken shared, “I would not have wanted to do my graduate work anywhere else [besides the Anschutz Medical Campus]. I had two amazingly supportive mentors, Dr. Emily Bates and Dr. Jeffrey Moore; they are a major part of why I received this award.”--
ABOUT the Graduate School. The Graduate School administers and serves master's programs, Doctoral programs, Certificates, and non-degree courses throughout all thirteen schools and colleges across both the Denver and the Anschutz Medical Campuses. The Graduate School recognizes the importance honoring our doctoral students who produce remarkable work throughout their academic career.