News and Awards

Haberecht Wildhare-Idea Research Grant Award – Award Recipients

In April 1994, Rolf R. and Ute S. Haberecht donated funds to The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center with the understanding that such funds be used to support academic activities within the Southwestern Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences under the direction of the Dean. The endowment was designated “The Rolf and Ute Haberecht Deanship of The University of Texas Southwestern Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, in honor of Olga and Max Haberecht and Anna and Hans Schwarz.”

The Haberechts were interested in research to explore what they termed "wildhare" ideas. A grant was created for support of speculative, innovative research to be administered by the graduate school. Thus, ideas with greater than average risk but great potential for useful outcomes would be the basis for research proposals to be reviewed in competition for these funds. A grant of $10,000 would be awarded for development of the idea.

The first announcement went out in March 1996. Students, postdocs, and junior faculty (Assistant Professor or lower) were eligible to submit a proposal.

Today, the competition is open to students, postdocs, and all levels of faculty at UT Southwestern. A call for proposals is distributed campus wide and selection is based on the judgment of a committee of eminent scientists recruited by Andrew R. Zinn, M.D., Ph.D., Dean of Southwestern Graduate School. The funding period is for one year. A grant of $25,000 has been awarded this year.

Please join the graduate school in congratulating this year’s recipients:, Assistant Professor of Green Center for Systems Biology
Project Title: Identifying the Lazarus Molecule Arctic

New Proposal Entry Date: TBD

Send an email to learn about the competition.

31st Annual Ida M. Green Award

Please join the UT Southwestern Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences in congratulating award recipient Ying Chuan Li as the 31st Annual Ida M. Green Award recipient. Ying has demonstrated outstanding scholarly achievement and commitment to community service during her tenure in graduate school and the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) at UT Southwestern.

Ying completed her dissertation, entitled “Molecular Determinants of Synaptic Vesicle Exocytosis and Endocytosis Coupling,” with her mentor, Ege Kavalali, Ph.D. Her graduate studies built on her earlier expertise in dynamic multicolor imaging methods to probe the properties of molecularly distinct synaptic vesicle populations in synapses visualized within intact neuronal networks. Ying recently published an extensive study in the journal Neuron demonstrating a heretofore-unexpected role for synaptotagmin1 in regulation of synaptic vesicle endocytosis. Her study shows that the synaptic vesicle fusion machinery, comprised of synaptotagmin1, complexins, and synaptotagmin7, while dictating the timing and Ca2+-dependence of neurotransmitter release, also exerts a strong influence on the properties of synaptic vesicle endocytosis. With regard to her work, Dr. Kavalali commented, “Coordination and performance of this diverse experimental effort could not have been envisioned without Ying’s creativity, versatile experimental skills and her keen interest in cell biology of the synapse. She is an excellent experimenter with the tenacity and perseverance to complete tedious experiments providing satisfactory positive or negative outcomes.” She has presented her research at important conferences in the US as well as abroad.

Ying has also demonstrated a continued commitment to improving the welfare of fellow students during her time in graduate school and the MSTP. She represented UT Southwestern at University of Texas System Student Advisory Committee meetings, where she advocated passionately for graduate students on a number of issues relating to career development, interdisciplinary education and graduate student support. She was also extensively involved in both the Graduate Student Organization (GSO) as well as the Student Leadership Committee (vice chair of health and graduate affairs) and co-founded the Student Emerging Academy of Leaders (SEALs) program. Now finishing medical school, Ying co-organized the Student Interest Group in Neurology and currently co-chairs the LCME Independent Student Analysis Committee.

The establishment of the Ida M. Green Award began in 1987 with a bequest from Mrs. Green to Southwestern Medical Foundation. With the encouragement of her husband, Cecil Green, the award was created to acknowledge a female graduate student who has demonstrated an outstanding commitment to the well-being of other students, to research excellence, and to exceptional community service activities.  The honor comes with a monetary award provided by the Women in Science and Medicine Advisory Committee (WISMAC) and Southwestern Medical Foundation.

Complete list of Ida M. Green Award Recipients

New Proposed Call for Nominations Date:  December 1, 2017
Deadline to Submit Nominations: January 9, 2018

Send an email to learn more about the competition to email

38th Annual Nominata Award

The Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences is pleased to announce Ryan Golden of the Integrative Biology Graduate Program and Medical Scientist Training Program as the 2017 recipient of the Nominata Award. The Nominata Award is the highest honor for academic and research accomplishment bestowed by the graduate school unto an advanced graduate student. In addition, Ho Yee Joyce Fung of the Molecular Biophysics Graduate Program and Liem Nguyen of the Cancer Biology Graduate Program are recipients of a Dean’s Discretionary Award, which reflects their notable research accomplishments and extraordinary ability to communicate their science outside of their field.

Ryan Golden recently completed his doctoral research in the laboratory of Joshua Mendell in the Department of Molecular Biology. Ryan’s work focused on discovering regulatory mechanisms in microRNA-mediated regulation. Ryan performed a remarkably successful CRISPR screen that helped identify novel regulators of microRNA pathways. This was the first genome-wide CRISPR screen to be published from UT Southwestern. Ryan’s work revealed that argonaute 2 (Ago2) is subject to a phosphorylation cycle that globally regulates microRNA activity. This research, which was recently reported as an article in Nature, provided fundamental insights into the mechanisms of miRNA-mediated gene silencing. The technical expertise Ryan has developed and shared is favorably impacting research in multiple labs on campus.

Ryan has demonstrated academic excellence and an exceptional level of research achievement. His accomplishments serve as an outstanding example for all graduate students of UT Southwestern.

Our 2017 Dean’s Discretionary Award recipients Ho Yee Joyce Fung (from Yuh Min Chook’s lab) and Liem Nguyen (from Hao Zhu’s lab) are members of the Molecular Biophysics and Cancer Biology Graduate Programs, respectively. Both have been prolific in their labs. Joyce’s work used structural biology to advance the understanding of how nuclear export sequences are recognized by the export factor CRM1, while Liem’s work used mouse models to provide new insights into the roles of the Lin28/let-7 microRNA pathway in liver cancer.


The Graduate Student Organization (GSO) created the Nominata Award in 1980 to stimulate academic excellence and research achievement among the advanced graduate students. The award consisted of a $2,000 prize and a $100 gift certificate from Majors Scientific Book Store. The Scholarship Committee, composed of faculty and student representatives, judged the nominees on academic and research performance. Today, the Committee on Graduate School Awards, comprised of graduate faculty, judges the nominees. The recipient receives a monetary award and is granted the honor of presenting their research to the UT Southwestern community within the forum of the University Lecture Series.

Nominees for the 2017 Nominata Award


Graduate Program


Elizabeth Aguilera

Molecular Microbiology

Julie Pfeiffer, Ph.D.

Wayne Doyle


Julian Meeks, Ph.D.

Charles Fermaintt

Biological Chemistry

Nan Yan, Ph.D.

Ho Yee Joyce Fung

Molecular Biophysics

Yuh Min Chook, Ph.D.

Ryan Golden

Integrative Biology

Joshua Mendell, M.D., Ph.D.

Liem Nguyen

Cancer Biology

Hao Zhu, M.D.

Kathryn Pendleton

Biological Chemistry

Nicholas Conrad, Ph.D.

Claudio Morales-Perez

Molecular Biophysics

Ryan Hibbs, Ph.D.

Keun Woo Ryu

Genetics, Development and Disease

Lee Kraus, Ph.D.

Xinzeng Wang

Biomedical Engineering

Ananth Madhuranthakam, Ph.D.

Jenny Weon

Integrative Biology

Ryan Potts, Ph.D.

Shu Zhang

Biomedical Engineering

Elena Vinogradov, Ph.D. 

Please join us in congratulating Ryan Golden, Ho Yee Joyce Fung, Liem Nguyen, and the other nominees for their dedication and impressive research accomplishments.

New Proposed Call for Nominations Date:  February 1, 2018
Deadline to Submit Nominations: March 1, 2018

The recipient receives a monetary award and is granted the honor of presenting their research to the UT Southwestern community within the forum of the University Lecture Series. 
Complete list of Nominata Award Recipients 

2016 Graduate School Organization Poster Session

Best of Show
Chien-Der Lee – Integrative Biology, Benjamin Tu, Ph.D.

Top Five
Chien-Der Lee – also received Best of Show
Leonardo Estrada – Immunology, David Farrar, Ph.D.
Chelsea Stamm – Molecular Microbiology, Michael Shiloh, M.D., Ph.D.
Elizabeth Aguilera – Molecular MicrobiologyJulie Pfeiffer, Ph.D.
Huanyu Zhou – Genetics, Development and Disease, Eric Olson, Ph.D.

Honorable Mention
Didem Agac – ImmunologyDavid Farrar, Ph.D.
Ashley Hoover – Immunology, Nicolai van Oers, Ph.D.
Ho Yee Joyce Fung – Molecular Biophysics, Yuh Min Chook, Ph.D.
Zhejian Ji – Genetics, Development and Disease, Hongtao Yu, Ph.D.
Hunkar Gizem Yesilyurt – Neuroscience, Jonathan Terman, Ph.D.