Here are some thoughtful perspectives on how the BEST program is enhancing the career development opportunities at Virginia Tech:

VT BEST Travel Awards

American Public Health Association Annual Meeting- Yeonwoo Lebovitz

American Society for Cell Biology Mini Course- Katharina Sewart

Aptima Job Shadowing- Lauren Kennedy

Columbia University Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders Externship- Rebecca Elias

National Institutes of Health Career Symposium- Aboozar Monavarfeshani

National Institutes of Health Career Symposium- Amara Greer-Short

Society of Women Engineers Annual Conference- Emily Ongstad 

Society for Neuroscience Conference- Lauren Kennedy

Native American Addiction Treatment Centers Visitation- Lara Moody

2017 National Institutes of Health Career Symposium- Ubadah Sabbagh

Microscopy and Microanalysis Conference- Cameron Varano

AAAS Catalyzing Advocacy in Science and Engineering- Ubadah Sabbagh


Iris Vilares, PhD (Postdoctoral Fellow, Fralin Biomedical Research Institute)

“The BEST program has been giving me valuable insights into the various different paths where my academic training can take me, both inside and outside of academia. The professional development classes range from serious (what purpose do you want to make for your life?) to fun and interactive (e.g. jump around making funny gestures and sounds to understand the importance of spontaneity when giving a lecture). Overall it has been a very useful and gratifying experience.”


Gregorio Valdez, PhD (Assistant Professor, Fralin Biomedical Research Institute and Dept of Biological Sciences)

“I was pleasantly surprised one day to have my trainee initiate a frank discussion about career goals and mentorship following her attendance at a BEST workshop on IDPs. While I always try to keep good lines of communication with my trainees, it was clear the workshop encouraged her to give deeper thought regarding the best path towards achieving her long-term goals, and prompted a discussion that ultimately allowed us to more efficiently structure her project towards mutually beneficial goals and timelines.”


Kevin Pridham, PhD candidate (First Year Graduate Student, Translational Biology Medicine and Health program)

“The BEST program has been helpful in showing me various career options outside of academia. It has also allowed me to appreciate and begin to understand the challenges of intellectual property in science.”


Meghna Verma, PhD candidate (First Year Graduate Student, Translational Biology Medicine and Health program)

“The BEST program is very different from the traditional graduate coursework, focusing on overall professional development that is not limited only to classroom teaching. The program covers a variety of domains that range from tips on grant writing, knowledge about intellectual property and patent filing and the use of myIDP software – a smart aid for smart planning of your career goals.”


Yeonwoo Lebovitz, PhD candidate (First Year Graduate Student, Translational Biology Medicine and Health program)

The BEST program at Virginia Tech grants us direct access to individuals who work in a wide variety of biomedical research settings, including those in career paths we never knew existed. In addition to speaker seminars and developing new networking contacts, the BEST program is helping us assemble a professional toolkit with skills that are harder to come by, such as communication, entrepreneurship, and advocacy. I feel like we have been given a leg-up to pursue research careers in spite of future economic uncertainties.


Cameron Varano, PhD candidate (First Year Graduate Student, Translational Biology Medicine and Health program)

“I appreciate how the BEST program has helped to and continues to mold my complete development as a young researcher. The training I receive in the lab has built my technical skills, but it is the addition of the BEST program which has developed my communication skills. Furthermore, my perspective on my career path has been broadened to include those opportunities beyond academia.”