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Graduate Student Travel Stories

The graduate student travel awards not only strengthen the academic and professional goals of our students, preparing them to be leaders in their fields, but also increase the awareness of their exceptional work and of graduate studies at Drexel. The following conference travel stories from current graduate students and alumni recount the value of their experiences. Through the Teck-Kah Lim Travel Award Fund we hope to offer such opportunities to all deserving graduate students at Drexel.

New Idea for Award-Winning Dissertation Stems from Conference

Drexel alumna, Marina Puzakova, received her PhD in business with a specialization in marketing from Drexel’s LeBow College of Business. During her prolific time as a graduate student she had the opportunity to present her published research at the Advances in Consumer Research conference in Jacksonville through the graduate student travel subsidy program.

Puzakova, who started her academic career as an assistant professor at Oregon State University, is now an assistant professor of marketing at Lehigh University. She said the graduate student travel award helped her “learn more about the academic community and interact with top researchers in the field.” Without the funding assistance Puzakova would not have been able to attend the prominent conference and further explained that the trip “also opened up opportunities to get exposed to top-notch research and participate in interactive research discussions.” 

Not only was the academic and research exposure valuable for Puzakova, but the discussions and presentations sparked a new idea for her doctoral dissertation. This proved advantageous upon her graduation from Drexel when her research in consumer reactions to humanizing brands earned her the outstanding dissertation award for social sciences across the entire University.

PhD Candidate Experiences Once-in-a-Lifetime Opportunity

PhD candidate in electrical and computer engineering, Cem Sahin, would not have had the opportunity to present his innovative cellular network and signal strength research at a prominent conference in his field if not for the graduate student travel award he received.

Having presented at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Wireless and Microwave Technology Conference (WAMICON) in Cocoa Beach, Sahin said, “This conference was a great experience. During my presentation, I discussed my team’s work face-to-face with well-known researchers and received valuable feedback from them, which I then integrated into my next conference paper.”

Sahin, whose research is a part of Drexel’s Wireless Systems Lab, also had the opportunity to network with other researchers in the wireless communications field as well as with experts of other disciplines. Sahin even brought back helpful brochures and information from the conference for his lab colleagues.

Coincidentally with the conference being held so close to the Kennedy Space Center, Sahin had the once-in-a-lifetime experience of witnessing the launch of a SpaceX rocket heading to the International Space Station and explained, “Hearing the rocket boosters roar, feeling the sound waves and seeing the bright flames in person was simply amazing and it certainly made me proud to be an engineer, so that I can make a difference in this world.”

Conference Sparks Newfound Inspiration for Master's Student

Kiana Hardy, Drexel alumna and former Graduate Student Association executive board member, earned her master’s degree from the Dornsife School of Public Health this past spring. While at Drexel, Hardy received a graduate student travel award to attend the American Public Health Association (APHA) Conference in Chicago where she was recognized as an APHA student fellow for the academic year. 

Having attended the prestigious conference for the first time Hardy reflected, “As a new public health professional it was an amazing opportunity to connect with public health leaders across the country.” She was particularly grateful for the opportunity as she said, “it inspired me to become an emergent leader in the fields of public health and health care. I had a few doubts about how my interests could align but I found I can connect the two with ease and be successful.” 

Hardy found value in networking with professionals within her field as well as with new colleagues who share her passion for race and health relations within the U.S.  Now working as a health care analyst in Washington, D.C., she hopes to further develop her skills and passions within a physician assistant program in the near future.

Networking Proves Invaluable for Aspiring Academic

Andrew Abbate, PhD candidate from Drexel’s School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems, utilized the graduate student travel subsidy following his defense of his research proposal. This proved to be an opportune time for him to showcase his promising work and network for his future career in academia.

Resulting from his presentation in Los Angeles at the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES) International Annual Meeting, Abbate won the second best paper award at a business meeting among professionals within his field and he has since been selected as an HFES student member with honors.

In addition to his successful presentation Abbate said, “I learned a lot from NASA personnel, who provided valuable methodological insights regarding interdisciplinary research.” He also benefited from the experiences of meetings with the president of HFES, with top researchers he has cited in his papers, and with the editor-in-chief of Human Factors, who advised him to join a student reviewer program. He explained, “These opportunities were beneficial in every way, and I’ve already built on the relationships.”

As Abbate continues his graduate work at Drexel he still appreciates the travel subsidy and reflected, “Attending this conference was extremely important for my professional and academic development—more than I could have known at the time.”

PhD Student Brings Interdisciplinary Knowledge Back to Drexel

Stephanie Goldstein is earning her PhD in clinical psychology at Drexel and along the way has produced an impressive amount of publications, presentations and even patent applications for her novel research, which explores the decision-making processes that trigger eating behavior.

With the assistance of the graduate student travel award, Goldstein was able to present her important work in Los Angeles at The Obesity Society’s (TOS) Annual Scientific Meeting. Considered one of the largest and most rigorous in the field of obesity, this academic conference hosts around 2,000 attendees.

Goldstein represented Drexel well by presenting her innovative research to professionals in her discipline and networking across the fields of medicine, nutrition, pharmacology, neuroscience and public policy.  She also had the opportunity to collaborate with an external faculty member of her dissertation committee, describing their meeting as “incredibly helpful for my project, but more so, he is a future professional with whom I'd like to collaborate when I graduate.”

Overall Goldstein reflected that the graduate travel award enabled the “perfect opportunity for me to expand my independent line of research and strengthen my knowledge.” Goldstein credits the conference experience with providing her with new skills to make significant scientific contributions to her field as well as new ideas for future research, which she has since brought back to her graduate work at Drexel.