Grad Students Host the 46th Annual Mid-Atlantic Graduate Student Symposium (MAGSS)

MAGSS organizers and lecturers
MAGSS organizers and lecturers: Dr. Spiegel, Woodard, Chettiar, Naman, Richard and Dr. Gerwick

The 46th Annual Mid-Atlantic Graduate Student Symposium in Medicinal Chemistry, Pharmacognosy and Pharmaceutical Science (MAGSS) was hosted two weeks ago at The Ohio State University. This event was organized by five graduate students: Ben Naman, John Woodard, Julian Richard, Eric Schwartz and Som Chettiar.

This team brought together nearly 100 graduate students, post-doctoral researchers and faculty members from nine regional universities from June 9-11 at the Ohio Union. Representatives came from Duquesne University, Indiana University, Ohio State, SUNY-Buffalo, the University of Kentucky, the University of Michigan, the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Toledo and Wayne State.

“Seeing as though we will be the leading researchers of tomorrow, it has been a great experience to learn the ins and outs of garnering financial support, contacting representatives from other universities and making all of the necessary phone calls and e-mails to make the event successful,” said Richard.

At the MAGSS, students had the opportunity to show their own research and hear about exciting developments in the field from invited speakers Dr. Dionico Siegel (University of Texas, Austin) and Dr. William Gerwick (University of California, San Diego). Ohio State’s own Dr. Robert Brueggemeier, Dr. Ching-Shih Chen, Dr. James Fuchs and Dr. Douglas Kinghorn spoke to participants as well.

One important facet of the MAGSS is that students broadcast their own research by presentations, gaining experience in public speaking and fielding audience questions. Nine student speakers from six of the participating universities took to the stage and presented on a variety of research topics, including the isolation of bioactive natural products or the total synthesis thereof, traditional synthetic medicinal chemistry, protein isolation, and drug delivery mechanisms.

“This is a great opportunity for graduate students to get together and share their research with one another,” said Werbovetz. “It also allows students to network and collect future contacts, which are very important for careers and research later on.”

Student oral and poster presentations were judged, and prizes were awarded for the top three in each category. Pratiq Patel (1st place, poster) and John Woodard (2nd place, oral) from the OSU College of Pharmacy were selected among the finalists.

“We all have different strengths to capitalize on, so we divided up responsibilities and contributed to the planning and execution of different aspects of the symposium,” said Woodard. “We are also very thankful for the support and helpful guidance from Dean Brueggemeier and Dr. Tom Li, as well as staff members Alice Daniels, Emily Keeler and Tanya McDay.”

After all the planning and execution, the graduate student organizing committee reflected back on the extra personal and professional development gained through organizing the MAGSS. Although obtaining donations, recruiting speakers and finding space for the event was difficult, the end result made the process an incredible journey for the students.

“By communicating frequently, we kept each other integrated and involved through the duration,” said Naman. “Next year’s MAGSS meeting will be hosted by the University of Toledo, and the rich history of this rotating annual symposium will hopefully continue for many years to come.”