Initiative for Maximizing Student Development

Join a diverse cohort of interdisciplinary scholars

The Georgetown University Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (GU IMSD) reflects our institutional commitment to diversity and scientific workforce development. Leveraging an interdisciplinary network of more than 60 faculty across seven graduate programs and departments, the GU IMSD program will develop a diverse cadre of scholars prepared for careers in the biomedical scientific workforce.

About the IMSD

The five doctoral students of the IMSD program's 2022 cohort.
GU IMSD 2022 Cohort (from left): Reniel Suarez Gonzalez, Korliss Britt, Cheyenne Orozco, Giselle Burton Sojo, and Samuel Allsup.

Four trainees enter the IMSD each year and are supported for Years 1 and 2. Year 1 consists of foundational coursework in trainees’ respective disciplines, with access to interdepartmental electives, cohort development activities and research rotations. All IMSD Trainees will complete a core Survival Skills course that focuses on scientific rigor, science communications, proposal development and responsible conduct of research. Trainees will also complete a course that helps them navigate institutional cultures, develop leadership skills, and synergize their sociocultural and science identities.

Trainees participate in a peer coaching program that will provide them with a self-sustaining structure to problem-solve and address career development issues with a community of peers. Additionally, IMSD trainees will develop cross-sector professional management and communications skills by completing a project management and communications curriculum.

During Year 2, trainees will join thesis research laboratories and form cross-disciplinary mentorship teams tailored to their individual interests and career development needs. The mentoring team structure will broaden trainees’ scientific skills and career perspectives. Trainees will also have protected time to complete experiential learning internship projects with administrative partners on campus, or with offsite partners in industry or policy sectors.

Benefits

Participating Programs and Faculty

Students complete the IMSD program while enrolled in one of seven participating Georgetown University Ph.D. programs. Browse faculty by program to learn about potential research opportunities.

The Ph.D. in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology program is geared toward students with a background or particular interest in areas such as molecular mechanisms, proteomics or biophysics. Faculty research interests include detection of biological agents such as anthrax, the biochemistry and immunology of the malarial parasite, and cellular responses to environmental stresses.

Moshe Levi, M.D. – Professor
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular & Cellular Biology
Renal and cardiovascular complications of obesity, diabetes and aging

Mary Beth Martin, Ph.D. – Professor
Department of Oncology
Metals and metalloid toxic effects on steroid receptors in cancer

Paul D. Roepe, Ph.D. – Professor
Department of Chemistry
Drug resistance and drug development in malaria

Dean Rosenthal, Ph.D. – Associate Professor
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular & Cellular Biology
Sensitivity of keratinocytes to UV radiation

Kathryn Sandberg, Ph.D. – Professor
Department of Medicine
Structural analysis and regulation of peptide hormone receptors

The Ph.D. in Biology provides graduate students with an introduction to graduate-level biology across diverse fields of biological science. Students will receive expert guidance in research, training in becoming effective communicators in science and a foundation in teaching pedagogy. Some of our graduates will become academics, whereas others will go on to leadership careers in government, private industry, public policy, or elsewhere.

Peter Armbruster, Ph.D. – Professor
Department of Biology
Ecology and genetics of vector mosquitos

Shweta Bansal, Ph.D. – Associate Professor
Department of Biology
Infectious disease ecology and mathematical biology

Shaun Brinsmade, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor
Department of Biology
Bacterial pathogenesis, nutrient sensing

Isaac Cervantes Sandoval, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor
Department of Biology
Memory acquisition and elimination

Thomas Coate, Ph.D. – Associate Professor
Department of Biology
Inner ear neurobiology and developmental neuroscience

Haiyan He, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor
Department of Biology
Formation of inhibitory neural circuits

Jeffrey Huang, Ph.D. – Associate Professor
Department of Biology
Oligodendrocyte-axon in CNS and MS adults

Ronda Rolfes, Ph.D. – Professor
Department of Biology
Fungal metabolism and pathogenicity; cell signaling and gene expression

Elena Silva, Ph.D. – Professor
Department of Biology
Evolution and development of the central nervous system

Steven Singer, Ph.D. – Professor
Department of Biology
Mucosal immunity and giardiasis

The Ph.D. in Chemistry prepares graduates for a variety of research and leadership careers in industry, government, and academia. Our Ph.D. program is well-suited for students interested in doing in-depth study in the following areas of chemistry: analytical chemistry, computational chemistry, materials chemistry, physical chemistry, biochemistry, inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, and theoretical chemistry.

Toshiko Ichiye, Ph.D. – Professor
Department of Chemistry
Physical chemistry, biophysics, extreme conditions, computational chemistry

Kaveh Jorabchi, Ph.D. – Associate Professor
Department of Chemistry
Analytical chemistry, quantitative trace detection in biomedical

Rodrigo Maillard, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor
Department of Chemistry
Mechano-chemistry of cell signaling complexes

Steven Metallo, Ph.D. – Associate Professor
Department of Chemistry
Small molecule binders of intrinsically disordered proteins, macromolecular crowding effects, engineering of protein-surface interactions

Paul D. Roepe, Ph.D. – Professor
Department of Chemistry
Drug resistance and drug development in malaria

Sarah Stoll, Ph.D. – Professor
Department of Chemistry
Synthesis and study of magnetic nanoparticles

Jennifer Swift, Ph.D. – Professor
Department of Chemistry
Development of crystallization processes in disease

Christian Wolf, Ph.D. – Professor
Department of Chemistry
Asymmetric synthesis, stereochemistry, chiroptical sensing, medicinal chemistry, drug discovery

The Ph.D. Interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience (IPN) is geared toward students with a focus or interest in research areas such as glial activation, neuron signaling and dendritic spine plasticity, to mechanisms of Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and traumatic brain injury, to systems of face recognition, word reading and interpretation of sounds.

Isaac Cervantes Sandoval, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor
Department of Biology
Memory acquisition and elimination

Thomas Coate, Ph.D. – Associate Professor
Department of Biology
Inner ear neurobiology and developmental neuroscience

Katherine E. Conant, M.D. – Associate Professor
Department of Neuroscience
Role of proteolysis in synaptic structure and function

Rhonda Dzakpasu, Ph.D. – Associate Professor
Department of Physics
Interactions within networks of neurons

Guinevere Eden, Ph.D. – Professor
Department of Pediatrics
Reading/math disability and treatment, sensory and language experience, bilingualism

Rebekah Evans, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor
Department of Neuroscience
Functional circuit dissection of dopamine neurons and related systems

Patrick Forcelli, Ph.D. – Associate Professor
Department of Pharmacology & Physiology
Neural circuitry underlying seizure propagation, complex behaviors, and the pharmacological treatment of neonatal seizures

Adam Green, Ph.D. – Associate Professor
Department of Psychology
Reasoning, human intelligence and analogical thinking, cognitive neurogenetics

Anna Greenwald, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor
Department of Neurology
Right hemisphere language functions, visual and auditory perception, and brain plasticity

Haiyan He, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor
Department of Biology
Formation of inhibitory neural circuits

Jeffrey Huang, Ph.D. – Associate Professor
Department of Biology
Oligodendrocyte-axon in CNS and MS adults

Xiong Jiang, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor
Department of Neuroscience
Functional imaging of reading, speech perception, neurological disorders

Ken Kellar, Ph.D. – Professor
Department of Pharmacology & Physiology
Nicotinic receptors in the CNS

Kathleen Maguire-Zeiss, Ph.D. – Professor
Department of Neuroscience
Neuro-degeneration, Parkinson’s, innate immune system

Ludise Malkova, Ph.D. – Professor
Department of Pharmacology & Physiology
Neural substrates of socioemotional behavior and reward processing

Abigail Marsh, Ph.D. – Professor
Department of Psychology
Neural and cognitive correlates of extraordinary altruism

Italo Mocchetti, Ph.D. – Professor
Department of Neuroscience
Neuroscience of neurotropic factors, HIV-associated neurodegeneration

Elissa L. Newport, Ph.D. – Professor
Department of Neurology
Language acquisition and reorganization after brain injury, developmental plasticity, sign languages and artificial language learning

Alexey Ostroumov, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor
Department of Pharmacology & Physiology
Midbrain circuit of drug abuse

G. William Rebeck, Ph.D. – Professor
Department of Neuroscience
Aging and neurodegeneration

Max Riesenhuber, Ph.D. – Professor
Department of Neuroscience
Computational neuroscience of vision, reading, speech, object categorization

Kathryn Sandberg, Ph.D. – Professor
Department of Medicine
Structural analysis and regulation of peptide hormone receptors

Elena Silva, Ph.D. – Professor
Department of Biology
Evolution and development of the central nervous system

Ella Striem-Amit, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor
Department of Neuroscience
Cross-modal plasticity in blind, deaf, role of sensory input on concepts

Peter Turkeltaub, M.D., Ph.D. – Associate Professor
Department of Neurology
Reading, speech processing, developmental and acquired language disorders, neuroimaging methods, brain stimulation

Chandan Vaidya, Ph.D. – Professor
Department of Psychology
Neuroarchitecture of adaptive mechanisms

Ashley VanMeter, Ph.D. – Associate Professor
Department of Neurology
Neuro-development and adolescent drug and alcohol use

Stefano Vicini, Ph.D. – Professor
Department of Pharmacology & Physiology
Electro physiological, immune cytochemical, pharmacological techniques for studying glutamine and GABA-mediated synapses

Tingting Wang, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor
Department of Pharmacology & Physiology
Aging and neurodegeneration

Anton Wellstein, M.D., Ph.D. – Professor
Department of Pharmacology & Physiology
Tumor micro environment; growth factor signaling; invasion and metastasis

The Ph.D. in Pharmacology & Physiology program provides research activities aimed at understanding the ways in which drugs affect the regulation of nervous system functions, including neurotransmitter/receptor interactions, pharmacology of nerve terminals, the neurochemical control of obesity and pain, neurochemical aspects of neurodegenerative diseases, the role of innervation in the control of peripheral autonomic organs, and cellular signaling in pulmonary hypertension.

Katherine E. Conant, M.D. – Associate Professor
Department of Neuroscience
Role of proteolysis in synaptic structure and function

Rhonda Dzakpasu, Ph.D. – Associate Professor
Department of Physics
Interactions within networks of neurons

Patrick Forcelli, Ph.D. – Associate Professor
Department of Pharmacology & Physiology
Neural circuitry underlying seizure propagation, complex behaviors, and the pharmacological treatment of neonatal seizures

Jeffrey Huang, Ph.D. – Associate Professor
Department of Biology
Oligodendrocyte-axon in CNS and MS adults

Ken Kellar, Ph.D. – Professor
Department of Pharmacology & Physiology
Nicotinic receptors in the CNS

Kathleen Maguire-Zeiss, Ph.D. – Professor
Department of Neuroscience
Neuro-degeneration, Parkinson’s, innate immune system

Ludise Malkova, Ph.D. – Professor
Department of Pharmacology & Physiology
Neural substrates of socioemotional behavior and reward processing

Italo Mocchetti, Ph.D. – Professor
Department of Neuroscience
Neuroscience of neurotropic factors, HIV-associated neurodegeneration

Alexey Ostroumov, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor
Department of Pharmacology & Physiology
Midbrain circuit of drug abuse

Anna Riegel, Ph.D. – Professor
Department of Oncology
Epigenetic control of early breast cancer progression

Stefano Vicini, Ph.D. – Professor
Department of Pharmacology & Physiology
Electro physiological, immune cytochemical, pharmacological techniques for studying glutamine and GABA-mediated synapses

Tingting Wang, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor
Department of Pharmacology & Physiology
Aging and neurodegeneration

Anton Wellstein, M.D., Ph.D. – Professor
Department of Pharmacology & Physiology
Tumor micro environment; growth factor signaling; invasion and metastasis

The Ph.D. in Physics offers both academic and industrial research, allowing our students a firm grounding in theoretical and practical skills. Our state-of-the-art research and teaching facility is specifically designed to promote interdisciplinary research and innovation.

Daniel Blair, Ph.D. – Associate Professor
Department of Physics
Tool and method development for quantifying soft and biological materials

Emanuela Del Gado, Ph.D. – Associate Professor
Department of Physics
Biomimetic coatings and mechanics of tissues

Rhonda Dzakpasu, Ph.D. – Associate Professor
Department of Physics
Interactions within networks of neurons

Peter Olmsted, Ph.D. – Professor
Department of Physics
Phase transitions and non-equilibrium phenomena in soft matter

Mak Paranjape, Ph.D. – Associate Professor
Department of Physics
Design and fabrication of biomarker sensing devices

Jeff Urbach, Ph.D. – Professor
Department of Physics
Biophysics of cellular dynamics and mechanics

Edward Van Keuren, Ph.D. – Associate Professor
Department of Physics
Synthesis and optical characterization of nanoparticles for biomedical use

Areas of particular strength in the Ph.D. in Tumor Biology program include research in breast cancer, tobacco use, gene-environment interactions, diet and nutrition, developmental therapeutics, molecular cytogenetics, as well as tumor angiogenesis, invasion and metastasis.

Maria Avantaggiati, Ph.D. – Associate Professor
Department of Oncology
Cancer cell metabolism, drug discovery, metabolic oncogenes

Jeanne Mandelblatt, Ph.D. – Professor
Department of Oncology
Cancer and aging

Mary Beth Martin, Ph.D. – Professor
Department of Oncology
Metals and metalloid toxic effects on steroid receptors in cancer

G. William Rebeck, Ph.D. – Professor
Department of Neuroscience
Aging and neurodegeneration

Anna Riegel, Ph.D. – Professor
Department of Oncology
Epigenetic control of early breast cancer progression

Rebecca Riggins, Ph.D. – Associate Professor
Department of Oncology
Targeting estrogen-related receptor signaling

Rabindra Roy, Ph.D. – Professor
Department of Oncology
Prevention of cancer by DNA repair

Ayesha Shajahan-Haq, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor
Department of Oncology
Drug resistance in breast cancer, systems approach

Joyce Slingerland, M.D., Ph.D. – Professor
Department of Oncology
PI3 kinase signaling in breast disease

Jeffery Toretsky, M.D., Ph.D. – Professor
Department of Oncology
Sarcoma, splicing, transcription, nuclear speckles, drug discovery

Louis M. Weiner, M.D., Ph.D. – Professor
Department of Oncology
Identifying and overcoming mechanisms of tumor-derived immunosuppression

Anton Wellstein, M.D., Ph.D. – Professor
Department of Pharmacology & Physiology
Tumor micro environment; growth factor signaling; invasion and metastasis

How to Apply

If you are interested in being considered for the GU IMSD program, please use the “Optional Diversity Statement” of your PhD program application to discuss in a few sentences why you are interested in the IMSD program and what you hope to both gain from and contribute to the program. PhD program directors will nominate IMSD fellows for consideration. Interviews for the IMSD will take place in the late winter/early spring of 2023.

Eligibility Criteria

Fellows

Meet the doctoral trainees of the IMSD program.

Samuel Allsup

Samuel Allsup

Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

I hope the program will build a community, and also help me be able to categorize and assess my own strengths and identify areas for additional work.


Korliss Britt

Korliss Britt

Neuroscience

I hope to gain knowledge and skills to develop as a neuroscientist through networking.


Giselle Burton Sojo

Giselle Burton Sojo

Tumor Biology

I have loved having mentors and also have enjoyed being a mentor, so it is definitely something that has played a very important role in my career and educational journey.


Cheyenne Orozco

Cheyenne Orozco

Chemistry

Pursuing a Ph.D. requires more perseverance and confidence than anything else.


Reniel Suarez Gonzalez

Reniel Suarez Gonzalez

Pharmacology & Physiology

The only way we can make science more inclusive is by assuming decision-making roles that contribute to achieving this goal.”


Leadership

For more information, contact us at guimsd@georgetown.edu.

Kathleen Maguire-Zeiss

Kathleen Maguire-Zeiss, Ph.D.

IMSD PI and Co-Director

Professor, Chair and Director of Neuroscience Graduate Programs, Department of Neuroscience

Caleb McKinney

Caleb McKinney,
Ph.D., MPS

IMSD PI and Co-Director

Associate Professor, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine; Associate Dean, Graduate and Postdoctoral Training and Development, Biomedical Graduate Education

Ronda Rolfes

Ronda Rolfes,
Ph.D.

IMSD PI and Co-Director

Professor and Director of Graduate Studies, Department of Biology

Amari Wilkins-Boston, BSHS

IMSD Program Manager

Senior Coordinator, Training Grant Support, Biomedical Graduate Education