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Graduate School News E-Newsletter [Vanderbilt University]

February 2017

Message from the Dean


Dear graduate students and postdoctoral fellows,

On January 27, 2017, President Trump signed an Executive Order that “suspends entry into the United States” from seven identified countries of both immigrants and non-immigrants for 90 days from when the Order was signed, except for those traveling on diplomatic visas, NATO visas, and C-2 visas for travel to the United Nations. Those seven countries are:  Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The Executive Order states that additional countries may be added to the list, and the 90-day time period may be extended for the original seven countries identified.

The Order is antithetical to the mission of the Graduate School. We welcome and actively recruit students and postdoctoral scholars from diverse backgrounds to create an inclusive and stimulating environment that fosters intellectual growth and development. We recognize the limits that this Order places on the research, teaching, and training for all, and also note the devastating personal effects of the Order for some in our community. I join Chancellor Zeppos and Provost Wente in affirming our commitment to students and postdoctoral scholars of all nationalities, religions, and status for equal treatment and full inclusion into the Vanderbilt community.

We are working with International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) and Human Resources to alert all those that are directly affected by the Executive Order. Non-immigrant students and scholars with F and J visas may contact ISSS. Students and scholars protected under DACA can contact the office if Inclusion Initiatives & Cultural Competence.

I want emphasize other resources we have available to support students and scholars during this difficult time. I encourage all students to visit the Center for Student Wellbeing and take part in weekly wellbeing practices offered there; speak with Psychological and Counseling Center counselors at a “Let’s Talk” session; and reach out to advisers and DGS’s for academic support. Similar mental health resources for postdoctoral scholars are available through Work-Life Connections.

In solidarity,

Dr. Mark Wallace, Dean of the Graduate School

In this issue…

Academic Enhancements

Digital Writing: Scholarly Communications Workshop Series

All workshops meet at 11am on Fridays in 418a of the Central Library

These workshops introduce students, postdocs, faculty, and staff members to new tools and techniques in the field of scholarly communications and digital scholarship. All are welcome! No need to RSVP. If you have questions, please contact clifford.anderson@vanderbilt.edu.

  • Markdown, February 10: Learn the basics of markdown and see how it can help you focus on the content rather than the formatting of your next writing project.
  • Zotero, February 17: Gather, organize, and analyze your resources and make writing footnotes a breeze with Zotero, a free and powerful citation manager.
  • Pandoc, February 24: Learn how Pandoc, “the swiss army knife” of file converters, can help you move from notes, through drafts, to a perfectly-formatted final manuscript of your next paper, article, or book.

Learn more »


Writing Studio’s Dissertation Writers’ Mini-Retreat

March 6-7, 9am to 4pm; Complete form by February 20

The retreat provides dissertating graduate students with loosely-structured time to work individually in a quiet, collegial atmosphere. We couple ample writing time with optional, one-on-one consultations and daily workshops meant to focus writers on their argumentation, chapter structure, and daily writing goals. Space in the retreat is limited. Sponsored by the Writing Studio, the Office of the Senior Associate Dean for Graduate Education and Research for the College of Arts and Science, the Graduate School, and the Graduate Development Network.

Learn more and register »


Publishing Your Journal Article

Wednesday, February 22, 4-5pm, Garland Hall 101

Please join the latest Arts & Science Graduate Student Seminar as journal editors from the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences discuss the academic publishing process and give advice for getting your work published in academic journals. This panel will feature Lutz Koepnick, who has served on the Editorial Board of PMLA and the Advisory Board of German Studies Review; William Fowler, Founding Editor and Editor-in-Chief of Ancient Mesoamerica; and Eva Harth, Associate Editor of Polymer Chemistry. Jeff Shenton, Assistant Director of the Writing Studio, will moderate the panel. All Vanderbilt University graduate students are welcome to attend. Refreshments will be served. Sponsored by the College of Arts & Science.

Learn more »


Peer Review of Grant Proposals Workshop for Graduate Students (Humanities & Social Sciences)

Friday, February 24, 9am-3pm, Alumni Hall Lounge

Graduate students need skills to review and write competitive grant and fellowship proposals. Such skills are in demand–in academic settings, profit-based and non-profit employment, and government positions. This workshop is divided into three parts: (1) strategies for writing persuasive arguments and attending to those arguments; (2) the nuts and bolts of reviewing and scoring a proposal; and (3) guidance on how to be a productive, valued, and collegial member of a team. Participants will work on teams to evaluate and score the proposals. Sponsored by the College of Arts and Science, The Writing Studio, and The Graduate School. Space is limited to 12 participants (a waiting list will be maintained, as well).

Learn more and register »


3MT Preparation Workshop

March 2, 4-5pm, Buttrick Hall 306

We will analyze winning 3MT presentations to learn how narrative and argumentative structure can turn your dissertation or thesis research into a concise and compelling presentation. Sponsored by the Writing Studio.

Career & Professional Development

Versatile PhD: STEM Careers in Conservation

February 6-10, online panel discussion

STEM PhDs can make a positive impact on the planet by working in Conservation – the protection and preservation of biodiversity, the environment, and natural resources toward sustainable use for future generations. All panelists are PhDs or ABD in STEM disciplines and all are currently working in conservation in a variety of settings.

If you already have an account, start here. If not, sign up for free as a Vanderbilt member (graduate students and postdocs).


CPT, OPT, or Academic Training Workshops for F1 and J1 International Students

Are you an international student looking to work or do an internship off-campus in the U.S.? Before beginning any off-campus employment, internships or training, all international students must receive prior authorization from ISSS. Attendance at a workshop is REQUIRED before applying for Curricular Practical Training, Optional Practical Training or Academic Training. Please note that the processing time for applications is 5 business days. For more dates and to find out which training workshop is right for you, click the link below.

  • Curricular Practical Training (CPT) :
    • Monday, February 13, 5:30-6:30pm, ISSS Lobby
    • Wednesday, February 22, 1-2pm, Student Life Center Lower Level Room 3
    • Monday, March 6, 4-5pm, Student Life Center Lower Level Room 3
  • Optional Practical Training (OPT):
    • Thursday, February 16, 5:30-7pm, ISSS Lobby
    • Thursday, March 2, 5:30-7pm, ISSS Lobby
  • Academic Training (AT):
    • Friday, March 3, 10-11am, Student Life Center Lower Level Rooms 1 & 2

Learn more »


The Job Search for International Students & Postdocs

Thursday, February 16, 5-6:30pm, Alumni Hall 201

The search for internships and post-graduate employment can be quite challenging for international students and postdocs. This workshop will help you understand the process and will address how to use all available resources to help you compete effectively in the job market. Sponsored by the Graduate School Career Development.

Register here »


Interviewing Skills for Graduate Students & Postdocs

Wednesday, February 22, 5-6pm, Alumni Hall 201

Preparation will give you the confidence to do your best in upcoming interviews. We’ll discuss phone, Skype, and onsite interview strategies for careers in business, industry, and non-profits. Presented by Graduate School Career Development.

Learn more and register »


Writing (That) Matters: Connecting Pleasure, Principles, and Publication

Wednesday, March 1, 12-1:30pm, Buttrick Hall 123

Ifeoma Nwankwo, Associate Provost for Strategic Initiatives and Partnership, will present the March Women in the Academy event. This program sponsored by the Graduate School and coordinated by the Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center offers PhD students a chance to reflect on the ways that gender affects their experience as they begin their professional journey in the academy. Lunch is provided.

Learn more »


ASPIRE to Connect 2017

Friday, March 3, 1-4pm, Student Life Center

A half day workshop aimed at building professional relationships. Gain practical tips and learn techniques to meet new people and cultivate authentic professional connections. We are excited to welcome Mary Mitchell, speaker, author, and president of the Mitchell Organization. Ms. Mitchell will discuss verbal and non-verbal communications, building rapport and trustworthiness, navigating social and business events, and more! Open to graduate students and postdoctoral scholars of all disciplines. Cosponsored by the BRET Office of Career Development and the Graduate School. Practice Networking Reception to follow with wine, cheese, and many raffle prizes!

Learn more and register »


Versatile PhD: Humanities/Social Science Careers in Think Tanks

March 6-10, online panel discussion

Humanities/Social Science PhDs can positively impact society by working in “think tanks,” non-academic research organizations that influence public policy around an important issue or cluster of issues. All panelists are PhDs or ABD in humanities or social science disciplines and all are currently employed in think tanks.

If you already have an account, start here. If not, sign up for free as a Vanderbilt member (graduate students and postdocs).

Health & Wellness

Weekly Wellbeing Practices

Well BeingThe Center for Student Wellbeing (CSW) building is across from Student Health and offers weekly wellbeing practices:

  • Yoga: Mondays, 2-3pm in the CSW Meditation Room
  • Massages: Mondays, 3:30-5:30pm in the CSW Meditation Room
  • Recovery Support Meeting: Tuesdays, 12-1pm in VRS Lounge
  • Guided Meditation: Tuesdays, 1-1:30pm and Thursdays, 3:15-3:45pm in the CSW Meditation Room
  • Grad Student Silent Meditation: Fridays, 10-10:30am in the CSW Meditation Room
  • Writer’s Accountability Group: February 17, 9-10am, CSW Classroom


Graduate & Professional Student Town Halls on Mental Health & Wellbeing

Monday, February 13, 10am-12pm, Student Life Center BOT Room

Wednesday, February 22, 2-4pm, Law School, Flynn Auditorium

Hosted by the Chancellor’s Strategic Planning Committee on Mental Health and Wellbeing. Two opportunities to give your imput on mental health and well-being at Vanderbilt University. Refreshments will be served at each event.

Learn more »


Resilience 101

Wednesday, February 15, 4-5pm, Center for Student Wellbeing

Focuses on the development and application of real-world skills that students can use during times of challenge and personal growth. Students will learn what resilience is, be given the opportunity to begin crafting a personal narrative that demonstrates their ability to thrive, and examine resilience-based strategies and skills. The central themes of these skills will revolve around internal and external gratitude as well as developing meaningful relationships.

Learn more »


Work-Life Workshops: Mindfulness as a Self-Care Practice

Wednesday, February 22, 12-1pm, Sarratt Student Center 216/220

The Work-Life Workshops for faculty, staff, and graduate students is a lecture-based lunch program that covers a blend of self-care and professional development topics such as navigating organizational politics, mindfulness and stress management, salary negotiation strategies, and more. This section will be presented by Holly Cook, LPC-MHSP, from the Integrative Life Center. Sponsored by the Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center.

Learn more »

Interdisciplinary Engagements

International Lens (iLENS) Film Series

This film series with a global perspective provides a forum for Vanderbilt’s diverse community of students, faculty, and staff. International Lens endeavors to transcend geographic, ethnic, religious, linguistic, and political boundaries by encouraging conversation and greater cross-cultural understanding through cinema. The series is a collaboration among Dean of Students offices, and, departments, centers, and programs across the University. There is no charge for admission. Films are screened in Sarratt Cinema at 7:30 p.m. unless otherwise noted.

  • Wednesday, February 15, Lupe Under the Sun, presented by Dr. William Luis
  • Wednesday, February 22, Half of a Yellow Sun, presented by Dr. Clive Mentzel
  • Wednesday, March 1Embrace, presented by Go Figure

Learn more »


The Impact of Walls: Experiencing Borders in East/West Germany, Israel/Palestine, & U.S./Mexico

Monday, February 13, 6pm, First Amendment Center

Join us for a panel discussion regarding the impact of WALLS. Panelists will discuss the Berlin Wall between East and West Germany, the wall that separates Israel and Palestine, as well as the proposed wall for the U.S./Mexico border. This event is free and open to the public. Sponsored by the Vanderbilt University Max Kade Center for European Studies, the Center for Latin American Studies, the Robert Penn Warren Center & the International Studies Legal Program at Vanderbilt Law School.

Learn more and RSVP »


What Now? The Future of U.S. Immigration Law & Policy

Tuesday, February 14, 12-1pm, Vanderbilt Law School Bennett Miller Room

Please join the Immigration Law Society as we welcome Nina Perales, vice president of litigation for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund as she discusses recent trends in and anticipated changes to immigration law and policy with the new administration. Nina Perales supervises the legal staff and litigation docket in MALDEF’s offices throughout the United States. Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation’s leading Latino legal civil rights organization. This event is free and open to the public; lunch will be served. Co-sponsored by the International Law Society, Law Students for Social Justice, and La Alianza.

Learn more »


From Hitchcock High to the NFL: I AM MICHAEL SAM

Thursday, February 16, 5:30-7:30pm, Sarratt Cinema

Michael Sam is an American football defensive end who made history when he came out as gay ahead of the NFL draft, making him the first openly-LGBT player to be drafted in any major American sport. Since his announcement, through scrutiny, criticism and unreserved admiration, he has become an icon and pioneer for the LGBT community. Revered for his unswerving courage, graciousness and fortitude, Sam will offer firsthand insight into leveraging individual personal strengths to pursue one’s dreams, and inspire us with his perspective on what it means to work hard to define and achieve success. Join Chancellor Zeppos in welcoming this role model and trailblazer for inclusion in sports. Tickets, which are free and available on a first-come basis, are required for this lecture. There is a limit of 2 tickets per person, and they must be picked up in advance at the Sarratt Student Center Box Office and cannot be reserved or mailed. Sponsored by the Chancellor’s Lecture Series.

Learn more »


2017 OUT in Front Conference

Saturday, February 18, 8am-5pm, Sarratt/Rand Student Center

The mission of OUT in Front is to engage students, faculty, and staff from across the south/southeast region in issues and topics relevant to the LGBTQQIA+ community and society at large. The theme of this year is sh(OUT): resistance through existence. Our goal is to explore the ways in which survival and solidarity among intersectional queer+ communities remains vital. Our existence is a powerful presence against the oppressive forces that surround us everyday. We want to boldly shout that we are ready to not only survive, but thrive, and demand that our voices be recognized and centered. The keynote speaker is Kit Yan, a New York based spoken word artist from Hawaii and performs theatrical slam poetry pieces about his life as a queer, transgender, and Asian American through stories about family, love, and social justice. Kit will be facilitating a slam poetry workshop and close the conference by performing his slam poetry piece Queer Heartache. Sponsored by LGBTQI Life.

Learn more and register »


Something Must Be Done About Prince Edward County

Monday, February 20, 4:10pm, Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center

Kristen Green will present “Something Must Be Done about Prince Edward County:  A Family, a Virginia Town, a Civil Rights Battle.” Green is the author of the critically-acclaimed book of the same title about a Virginia community that defied the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education ruling. When ordered by a federal court to desegregate the public schools in 1959, white leaders instead chose to close them and public schools remained closed in the county until 1964. Green’s book tells the story of these events and the long-term impact on her hometown. Co-sponsored by the Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center and the Robert Penn Warren Center. A reception will follow the program.

Learn more »

Community & Social Events

VPA Happy Hour

Thursday, February 23, 5pm, Sportsman’s Grille

Join the Vanderbilt Postdoctoral Association (VPA) for happy hour at Sportsman’s Grille and enjoy socializing with other postdocs!  Happy hour lasts till 7pm.


GSC General Body Meeting

Thursday, March 2, 6-7pm, Alumni Hall 201

All graduate students are welcome to join the Graduate Student Council to learn about news and upcoming events for graduate students.

Learn more »

Graduate Reading Discussion

Tuesday, February 21, 4:30-6:30pm, Alumni Hall 010

Join Dean Mark Wallace for the fourth installment of the common reading book discussions on Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast & Slow. We will cover up to page 265 (part 3) and look forward to lively discourse, some of which will go outside the bounds of the book. Refreshments provided.

Register here »

Academic Deadlines

calendar-icon (002)

  • February 13: Deadline to Submit Intent Form for May Graduation
  • March 6-10: Spring Break

Save the Date for 3MT!


The annual Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition will be held Friday, March 31, 2017. The competition is a great opportunity for graduate students to engagingly communicate their dissertation in a very condensed time frame. This year, the keynote speaker will be Claudia Deane, Vice President of Research at the Pew Research Center. Registration will open soon!

Learn more »

Featured Graduate School Staff Member

Meet Sheri Kimble, who started as a temp in 2012 only to become a permanent fixture. As an administrative assistant to assistant deans Ruth Schemmer and Don Brunson, Sheri schedules advising appointments, assists with events, and generally keeps the gears functioning smoothly. Originally from Chicago, she has lived in many other cities across the US before landing in Nashville. She has been pleasantly surprised at all the wonderful things Nashville has to offer and keeps her calendar full. You might see her volunteering at the Schermerhorn or a local voting precinct on election day, playing the ukelele, or taking in an art event. She loves intelligent discussion, fine food, and lifelong learning. Stop by to see her smiling face in Alumni Hall 010!

R-Ladies Nashville Meetup

Friday, February 10, 12:15pm, VUMC Biostatistics Conference Room

Two women in Vanderbilt’s Biostatistics Department co-founded R-Ladies Nashville, a programming community for women interested in R, a statistical programming language, with an overarching goal of increasing gender diversity in the R community. The next meetup will be February 10th at 12:15p. Follow us on twitter @RLadiesNash.

Learn more »

Edge for Scholars

Edge for Scholars is your community for candid conversation about life in academics. We strategize about how to do great research, stay productive, network effectively, mentor well and be mentored, negotiate for resources, get grants, refine writing and editing, cultivate leadership skills, and achieve your goals. Posts are of interest for postdoctoral scholars and graduate students. Check them out and sign up for the weekly newsletter!

Learn more »

VSA Teaching Assistant Positions

Vanderbilt Programs for Talented Youth is seeking graduate students from all fields to serve as TA’s for accelerated courses within Vanderbilt Summer Academy. VSA students are high-ability students in grades 8-12, typically scoring near the 95th percentile or higher on nationally normed achievement or ability tests. The TA provides logistical and pedagogical support to the instructor and students. The salary is competitive and lunches are provided. TAs may work anywhere from 1-6 weeks depending on the availability of the candidate and the needs of the program.

Learn more and apply »

Apply to be an iLEAD Mentor!

Applications due Sunday, February 12 at midnight 

The Office of International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) is now accepting applications for Fall 2017 iLEAD Mentors. iLEAD student mentors are current international and US students who are selected based on their experience and enthusiasm to build a welcoming environment to Vanderbilt for all incoming international students, even before they arrive at Vanderbilt. Compensation is not available at this time; however, iLEAD as a student organization will receive a yearly programming budget. Responsibilities include serving as peer leaders for a group of 8-15 new students, focusing on group dynamics and one-on-one peer mentoring; communicating with assigned students by email prior to their arrival and act as a resource; assisting with International Student Orientation and all orientation activities, and more!

Learn more and apply »

Center for Teaching 2017-2018 Positions


Applications due by Wednesday, February 22 at 4pm

Applications are now open for a variety of graduate student positions at the Center for Teaching (CFT). Each year the CFT hires a number of graduate students as part of its efforts to mentor and train graduate students, including those serving as teaching assistants or instructors of record here at Vanderbilt as well as those interested in developing teaching skills for future faculty careers. The CFT has three types of positions available: Graduate Teaching Fellows, Teaching Affiliates, and the Certificate in College Teaching (CiCT) Program Facilitator.

Learn more »

ComSciCon 2017 National Workshop

Applications due by March 1

Applications are now open for ComSciCon 2017, the 5th annual Communicating Science workshop, to be held in Cambridge, MA on June 8-10th 2017. Graduate students at U.S. institutions in all fields of science, technology, engineering, health, mathematics, and related fields are encouraged to apply. Acceptance to the workshop is competitive; attendance is free and travel support and lodging will be provided to accepted applicants. Participants will build the communication skills that scientists and other technical professionals need to express complex ideas to the general public, experts in other fields, and their peers. In additional to panel discussions, ample time is allotted for networking with science communication experts and developing science outreach collaborations with fellow graduate students.

Learn more and apply »

Writing Studio 2017-2018 Positions

Application materials due by Friday, March 3 at 9am

The Writing Studio is in the process of hiring Graduate Writing Consultants and the Arts & Science Graduate Writing Fellow for the 2017-2018 . Writing Consultants primarily hold one-to-one consultation sessions with graduate and undergraduate writers, but also facilitate workshops and writing groups. The position pays $13.00/per hour. Graduate Consultants work no fewer than 5 hours per week, and may work as many as 15 hours per week if their other departmental duties allow. The Arts & Science Fellow works 15-20 hours per week and receives a generous stipend for the academic year.

Learn more and apply »

CASPAR Adviser 2017-2018 Positions

Application materials due by Friday, March 3 at noon

The CASPAR adviser position offers a distinctive post-doctoral opportunity for scholars who have recently earned their PhD or MFA from VU or who will graduate in May 2017. Advisers work individually with Arts & Science undergraduates to help them understand and adapt to academic expectations, requirements, and values of the College, and chart courses of study. Advisers receive a competitive salary of $42,000 per year plus the standard benefits package for full-time faculty at Vanderbilt, including $1,000 annually in professional development funds.

Full description and application instructions »

Data Visualization Competition

Submissions due by Wednesday, March 15 at 5pm

Vanderbilt University is hosting a data visualization competition for all undergraduate, graduate and professional students. Data visualization is presenting objects, ideas and data in a visual or nontraditional way that highlights trends, outliers and unique representations of the information. The competition is being held in conjunction with the campus exhibition Places & Spaces: Mapping Science, an international collection of data visualizations that use groundbreaking methods to make sense of large data streams. Examples of data visualization include traditional GIS mapping, 2D image maps, digital 3D visualizations, sculpture, music and more. Submissions will be accepted from any discipline regardless of medium. Both individual and group submissions are welcome.

Learn more »

RWJ Health Policy Research Scholars

Applications due by Wednesday, March 29

This program is an opportunity to create real change. Selected scholars will be a part of the next generation of researchers and policymakers, creating a more diverse community who will create policies and solutions that are inclusive and relevant to the communities they serve. Applicants must be entering the first or second year of their doctoral program in September of 2017; from any research-focused discipline; from underrepresented populations and/or disadvantaged backgrounds; interested in interdisciplinary approaches and translating their research into health policy; eager to use their unique perspective to build a Culture of Health to enable everyone in America to live longer, healthier lives. The program supports scholars for 4-5 years, with eligibility for additional dissertation support.

Learn more and apply »

Nashville Highlight

Saturday, February 25, 10am-2pm, Nashville Farmers Market

CSA Fair! This free event offers you a chance to meet local farmers, discuss growing methods, learn harvest schedules, pick up locations, and access general information on what a CSA program is and how it supports our local agriculture.  More information at

Learn more »

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