COVID-19: UPDATE FROM THE GSBS

As our response to COVID-19 continues to evolve, please stay tuned to regular communications from the Office of the President/UTMB Broadcasts and monitor the UTMB COVID-19 website for updates: www.utmb.edu/COVID-19. This page has been regularly updated with videos, FAQs, and additional information as developments are available. A web page specific to students is available here: https://www.utmb.edu/covid-19/students-parents. We are endeavoring to stay in close communication with you regarding updates as the situation develops.

Please review the information to the right for guidance regarding GSBS coursework and research.

COVID-19-Advice-Grid

We want to ensure that faculty are aware of the options for teaching virtually. There is not much time to prepare, and the main goal is to get through the rest of the term. Course directors and their faculty are asked to use next week (3/16-3/20) to implement remote instruction. This transition should be completed by March 23rd. Please inform your students of any alterations to the course schedule.

Below are several different possibilities for virtual instruction, from easiest to more complex/”true” online:

  1. If you have classes of a small size, you can email PowerPoints to your students or share them in Dropbox or some equivalent and talk through them via teleconference.
  2. Similar to number 1, share your PowerPoints via Skype, Zoom, or Go to Meeting. If you need help figuring this out, please contact your coordinator first, and if you need additional help, contact Dr. Kristen Peek directly.
  3. Even with larger courses, option 2 is possible. It becomes more complicated to have student discussion, but still feasible.
  4. Start to move your courses online – you can use Panopto (i.e. Tegrity replacement, reference attached) to record your lectures with a PowerPoint on blackboard. With this option, students can move through the online material, and then you can use Skype or other virtual platform for student discussions. It may be most convenient for you to plan to use a desktop with microphone to record lectures. If you need to use equipment in a classroom (i.e. Levin 3.320/3.324), call Classroom Services at (409) 772-8980.
  5. Move content fully online – using Blackboard more fully with exams, quizzes, uploading papers, exercises, discussion board OR using SoftChalk (an online tool for virtual teaching – link below) to put materials online for students to view. If you use SoftChalk, you can post the link on Blackboard for your class. SoftChalk: https://www.utmb.edu/ar/academic-computing/learning-apps/softchalk

If you are interested in using SoftChalk to develop online learning materials, click the link above to get the activation key. The GSBS can provide training and examples. Please decide how you will handle your courses virtually and contact Dr. Kristen Peek at mkpeek@utmb.edu or 409-772-9143 as issues arise.

For students who need to meet with research mentors, currently have scheduled research meetings or defenses, we will utilize social distancing strategies. For research meetings, off campus committee members will need to join the meeting using Skype or can be emailed copies of slides/data before the meeting and then join the meeting by phone. On campus members can attend meetings in person, by Skype or by phone. Thesis or dissertation defenses will utilize the same methods mentioned above.  Required documentation related to defense meetings can be mailed to GSBS. In regards to public defenses, please contact Dr. Joan Nichols (jnichols@utmb.edu) to discuss options.

There have been questions as to the status of graduate students as part of UTMB’s response to COVID-19. Graduate students are critical to research operations and with graduate assistantships will be classified as essential employees and available to work in research laboratories. Dr. Andy McNees is working with HR to complete documentation. Our primary concern will be to keep our students safe. We will recommend that students be on campus only to complete their work and then return home to continue their work. Some students may be able to pursue their research remotely and this would be ideal.

Please consult with your mentors for plans for experiments, ordering sufficient supplies, work that can be done from home, communications, etc. Members of the GSBS are in a unique position during this pandemic as many of our faculty and trainees are directly involved in research for COVID-19 response. Your course directors should be communicating with you regarding plans for virtual classes.

The Office of the Provost is closely monitoring developments with the novel coronavirus COVID-19, working with others in UTMB leadership and the four schools to assess risks and plan accordingly. Your health and safety, along with that of our faculty, staff, patients and community, is of paramount importance.

On Friday, March 13, the guidance for students regarding the continuation of classes is as follows:

  • If you are a student who is currently on spring break, your spring break is extended another week (through Friday, March 20). Please monitor the communications you will receive over the coming week, for information regarding when you may return to campus and the continuation of on-campus activities.
  • If you are a student who is currently on a clinical rotation, please monitor the communications you will receive, and follow up with your school deans for further instruction.

We will continue to share updates on the UTMB COVID-19 website section for students and parents, which also contains the current travel guidance, instructions for those who experience symptoms, and additional valuable information. Please bookmark this site if you have not already. Thank you for your flexibility and cooperation to help ensure we do all we can to reduce the risks associated with the spread of this virus.

Above all, the health and safety of our campus is our priority. Please follow recommended guidelines to help prevent the spread of illness. You may view the CDC’s recommended precautions at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fabout%2Fprevention-treatment.html. Sanitize frequently touched items (e.g. laptops, desktops, car keys, etc.). Social distancing (avoiding large crowds, maintaining 6 feet of distance, etc.) may also help limit the spread of the virus.

As a reminder, if you are sick, please stay home. Faculty, if your students are sick (with any illness), please tell them to stay home. If you are experiencing flu-like symptoms, listed below are UTMB sites designated for evaluation. Please call in advance of your arrival at the clinic. Phone numbers and addresses are available via the following link: https://www.utmb.edu/covid-19/patients.

    • UTMB Island West;
    • UTMB Urgent Care in Galveston;
    • UTMB Texas City Urgent Care Clinic;
    • UTMB Hwy 3 Pediatric and Adult Primary Care;
    • UTMB Angleton Danbury Clinic; and
    • UTMB Angleton Danbury Pediatric and Adult Primary Care

As we prepare for telecommuting, be prepared to work from home and check your remote connections if you have not yet done so. Information about logging into VPN and the required two-factor authentication is available at https://www.utmb.edu/is/divisions/operations/vpn-setup. The UTMB Help Desk may be contacted 24/7 at the below phone numbers to troubleshoot technical issues:

  • From On-campus: 409-772-5200
  • From Galveston Area: 409-772-5200
  • From 281 Area Code: 281-554-1577
  • From All Other Areas: 888-898-2401

Please also test your Skype for the ability to connect for videoconferencing. Further information is available at https://www.utmb.edu/sfb/. If you plan to use UTMB equipment for telecommuting, ensure that you coordinate with your department administration and complete any necessary loan agreement forms.

The application and admissions process for GSBS students entering in the fall term will continue, complying with University policies for maintaining safety of faculty and staff. Applications to the GSBS will continue to be evaluated, and request for admission packets will be handled as they have been. However, GSBS staff will be working remotely, so application packets will need to be sent to Laura Teed (lcteed@utmb.edu) electronically.

Following University policy, please do NOT invite any recruits on to campus, either for interviews or for visits after they have accepted an offer for admission. We will work with HR and Enrollment Services to determine if and how matriculation procedures need to be modified.

The Graduate School will be transitioning office support services for our faculty and trainees to a virtual format as of Monday, March 16th until further notice. Please be assured that our staff remain ready to assist you during standard business hours: Monday through Friday, 8:00 am-5:00 pm. Provided below is a listing of phone and email contacts where staff members may be reached. A full listing of GSBS contacts which includes program directors and coordinators is attached.

Graduate School Staff

Name

Email

Claiborne Fant

cmfant@utmb.edu

Rose Garcia

rosgarci@utmb.edu

Shibani Karovalia

shkarova@utmb.edu

Jessica Linton

jelinton@utmb.edu

Denise Reed

djreed@utmb.edu

Chris Rhodes

chmrhode@utmb.edu

Laura Teed

lcteed@utmb.edu

GSBS Main Line: 409-772-2665


Contact information for GSBS leadership is provided below:

Graduate School Leadership

Name

Email

Dr. David Niesel

dniesel@utmb.edu

Dr. Joan Nichols

jnichols@utmb.edu

Dr. Kristen Peek

mkpeek@utmb.edu

Dr. Daniel Jupiter

dajupite@utmb.edu

Dr. Tracy Toliver

ttoliver@utmb.edu


The Graduate School is committed to our faculty and trainees and if you have any questions or concerns during this time, please do not hesitate to contact any of our leadership or staff. We will work together so that educational activities and research continue as best as possible while ensuring that our students, staff, and faculty are safe. Take care of yourselves and should you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Dear GSBS Colleagues:

As our community continues to respond to the unfolding public health emergency, the safety of our students, faculty, staff, and campus is our top priority. Based on direction from the University of Texas System and in light of guidance on public gatherings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the spring 2020 commencement ceremony for the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences will be postponed.

We understand how disappointing this must be for our graduates and their families who were planning to celebrate this hard-earned milestone in May. Commencement is a special day in which all members of our educational community come together to recognize the newest class of biomedical scientists and scholars and their remarkable achievements.

Please be assured that we are committed to honoring our graduates on a future date, possibly this fall, once it is considered prudent to do so. We will communicate those updated plans as soon as they are available. Graduates will still receive their degrees as scheduled after meeting our specified degree requirements. Graduates will receive their diplomas in the mail at the address specified by each graduate.

Thank you for your understanding as we navigate this challenging time together. The Graduate School and all of our faculty, staff, alumni, and current students celebrate our Class of 2020 and look forward to recognizing their accomplishments as the next generation of leaders in biomedical science and in all of the careers that they will pursue!

Sincerely,

David W. Niesel, PhD
Lawrence E. Ethridge, Jr. Professor
Senior VP and Dean
Graduate School of Biomedical Science
Associate Chief Research Officer


GSBS News

Academy of Master Teachers Shoutout!

Jupiter, Dan_adj

Please join us in congratulating Dr. Daniel Jupiter for being recognized by Peers and Students as the Educator of the Month for June 2020!

Daniel Jupiter, PhD, is an Associate Professor at the University of Texas Medical Branch Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. Dr. Jupiter teaches courses across many of the programs in the Graduate School, from first year students who will be working in labs, to our Master of Public Health students, to PhD students in Population Health. He also mentors students one on one, and teaches individual reading courses.

His research focuses on lower extremity complications of diabetes, including ulceration, amputation, and infectious diseases such as osteomyelitis. He works closely with clinical collaborators in studying the epidemiology of, risk factors for, and treatment of these diseases.

GSBS Blog for Trainees

A new blog is now available where trainees can discuss and exchange opinions about current events and issues in science and education. The blog is an initiative between the UTMB Chapter of Sigma Xi and the GSBS. To access the blog, click here.

New Vaccinology Track!

The UTMB Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences has recently approved the Vaccinology Track for current and prospective PhD students in the HPTM graduate program plus graduate students in other graduate programs who have passed their qualifying exam. For full details, please follow this link.

Candidacy Milestone

Congratulations to Megan Files for advancing candidacy in the PhD ! Megan is in the Human Pathophysiology and Translational Medicine program, mentored by Dr. Janice Endsley.

Congratulations to Kelli Peterman for advancing to PhD candidacy! Kelli is in the Nursing program mentored by Carolyn Phillips.

Congratulations to Emily Mantlo for becoming a PhD candidate! Emily is in the Microbiology and Immunology Program, in the lab of Dr. Paessler.

Congratulations to Lorenzo Ochoa for advancing to PhD candidacy! Lorenzo works with Gracie Vargas in the Neuroscience program.


BioMedCAS

UTMB GSBS joins other schools in adopting the BioMedCAS system for processing applications to graduate school. See Liaison International's press release here: https://www.liaisonedu.com/news/liaisons-biomedcas-doubles-membership-in-its-third-cycle/

Student Spotlight

Focus on Mentoring

MPH Student Selected as 2020 Archer Fellow

Congratulations to Semira Solomon, one of our MPH students, for selection as a UT System ⁦‪‬⁩2020 Archer Fellow! She intends to spend her time in DC in working with Housing and Urban Development on a project related to health outcomes for children living in public housing.

The Archer Fellowship Program was established by the UT System in conjunction with former U.S. Representative Bill Archer as a way to bring highly motivated and accomplished students to Washington, DC, for a comprehensive academic and professional experience.

GSBS Time Capsule "Buried"!

As you may recall, the GSBS dedicated its 50th anniversary time capsule in late December at the GSBS 50th Anniversary Wrap-up Event in Levin Hall. The time capsule was filled with 50th anniversary commemorative items, messages from GSBS faculty, trainees, and friends, contributions from the GSBS students, photos, and more. The time capsule has now been “buried” in the Blocker History of Medicine Collection in the Moody Medical Library and will be reopened on the 75th anniversary of the Graduate School in 2044. An inscribed plaque and key are housed in the GSBS administrative offices to commemorate the time capsule and anticipate its opening in 25 years!

Are You New to GSBS?

Accepted Offer? What's Next?


GSBS 50-for-50 InitiativeThe GSBS "50 For 50" Initiative!

The "GSBS 50 for 50" is an alumni-led initiative to raise $500,000 in graduate program specific support to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the GSBS in 2019. Ideally, the initiative will result in the establishment of a graduate program specific endowment for every graduate training program in the GSBS.

Alumni Videos

The Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (GSBS) celebrated its 50th Anniversary on October 18-19, 2019. Alumni from all five decades and from across the various training areas returned to UTMB to participate in the events. 1969 Alumna Dr. Mary Guinan, Founding Dean Emerita of the School of Public Health at The University of Nevada, Las Vegas, gave the keynote address entitled “Strengthening Science for a New Age.” In commemoration of the anniversary, a short video series was created to highlight thoughts from our faculty, students, alumni, and staff on the impact of the GSBS.


Alumni Symposium – Alumni

Alumni Symposium – Faculty

Alumni Symposium – Students

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