Get to Know Our TL1 Trainees

SCTR Communications
August 28, 2020
TL1 Trainees at the Capital.
TL1 Trainees from across the Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) Network gather at the Capital Building while attending the 2019 ACTS Conference held in Washington, DC.

This month we’d like to introduce you to the newest members of the SCTR research family, our TL1 2020-2021 cohort.

TL1s are predoctoral students who are embarking on their first steps towards a career in clinical and translational research. This year we have four new trainees and four trainees returning for a second year of funding.

The TL1 program supports translational research projects from any disease state or focus area. This ensures that our awardees have diverse viewpoints and areas of interest. We thought it would be fun to find out a little bit more about all our trainees, so we asked them a series of “getting to know you” questions.

We hope that you enjoy getting to know this promising group of young researchers, and please join us in welcoming our newest awardees to the team!

Welcome Year 1 Trainees!

Gray EvansJohn "Gray" Evans

What is something that the other trainees would be surprised to know about you?

I want to visit all the U.S. National Parks in my lifetime. I’ve only visited two so far, but I’m an optimist!

What drew you to the TL1 program?

I was drawn to the TL1 program because of its emphasis on translational research, the numerous opportunities it provides to improve my skills as a researcher, and the chance to learn from a vast network of mentors with a diverse range of expertise.

How does the TL1 fit into your prospective career trajectory?

I want to be a physician-scientist who is competent in conducting basic, translational, and clinical research. The TL1 program will help me achieve this goal in several ways. I look forward to building my skillset by engaging informal educational opportunities and learning from the collective experiences of the TL1 mentors.

Amelia FurbishAmelia Furbish

What is something that the other trainees would be surprised to know about you?

I almost majored in Art History rather than Biology. Although science predominates in my life, I still have a deep appreciation for anything artistic.

What drew you to the TL1 program?

The TL1 program offers students a structured approach to gain insight into how translational science is conducted. Since I plan to complete both a PharmD and a Ph.D., the TL1 program provides the opportunity for me to learn how to effectively combine the knowledge I receive from each individual program of study.

How does the TL1 fit into your prospective career trajectory?

I hope to utilize my clinical pharmacy training, along with my medicinal chemistry training, to conduct translational drug discovery research at a large academic medical center.

Corey MorrowCorey Morrow

What is something that the other trainees would be surprised to know about you?

I was born without a sense of smell.

What drew you to the TL1 program?

The opportunity to collaborate with experts in translational research and students from different backgrounds.

How does the TL1 fit into your prospective career trajectory?

Aside from learning to become a better writer and thinker, I am excited specifically to learn more about translational research. As an occupational therapist, I want to influence future generations of therapists by helping to provide them with evidence-based practice and the tools to translate research into clinical practice.

Alyssa RisnerAlyssa Risner

What is something that the other trainees would be surprised to know about you?

In addition to my Ph.D. work, I am an artist and a photographer in my free time. I had an art piece accepted into an art show at The Hyde Museum in New York several years ago. I use art as a creative outlet, and I love to listen to music as I paint and draw.

What drew you to the TL1 program?

Throughout my academic career, and in life, I have been driven to be an agent of positive change to help those in need through the advancement of medical treatments. While my training in my Ph.D. has been focused on benchwork, the TL1 program gives me the opportunity to expand my training beyond basic science and the bench. I was drawn to the opportunity to collaborate with both clinical and translational scientists who can offer new perspectives and strategies to find solutions to some of the most complex problems in the biomedical field. The TL1 program also provides resources to establish myself professionally within a diverse, interdisciplinary, and global scientific community.

How does the TL1 fit into your prospective career trajectory?

The TL1 training program offers the unique opportunity to gain clinical experience that I am currently lacking in my laboratory training. The goal as a biomedical researcher is for my work to potentially aid in the development of therapeutics for use in the clinic and directly improve the quality of life of patients. The interactions with patients and clinical scientists and the networking opportunities offered by the TL1 program will fill in the gaps of my knowledge from a strictly basic science perspective. This will allow me to become a well-rounded and skilled biomedical investigator at the forefront of advancing therapeutics and medical technology.

Welcome Back Year 2 Trainees!

CouchChristine Couch

What is something that the other trainees would be surprised to know about you?

I grew up playing competitive tennis from age 4 and played tournaments nationally and throughout college.

What drew you to the TL1 program?

Through my mentor's encouragement and previous TL1 trainees in his lab, along with the high standards held by the TL1 program, it was of interest and appeared to be a challenge to me, and I have always risen to a challenge.

How does the TL1 fit into your prospective career trajectory?

With the included additional relevant coursework, I feel the TL1 will better prepare me for my lofty career goals. Also, the inclusion of attending the ACTS conference, as well as discussing our own research work at a couple of poster presentation days at MUSC has broadened my interactive knowledge base with fellow peers as well as faculty members.

KaramJoseph Karam

What is something that the other trainees would be surprised to know about you?

I am passionate about global health, this year I participated in Emory’s Global Health Case Competition, as part of an interdisciplinary team of MUSC students. I believe that basic scientists should have a more prominent voice in global health issues.

What drew you to the TL1 program?

The training in translational science is what drew me to the TL1 program, my work is pre-clinical, and this program offers mentorship and training that offers a big picture view, and really pushes my work in an impactful direction.

How does the TL1 fit into your prospective career trajectory?

I would like a career as a translational scientist - cancer research is not only my job, it is my passion. The TL1 allows me to spend time on the clinical side of cancer treatment, involves courses on ethics and rigor in science, and trains us in grantsmanship. Overall, it sharpens the soft skills we need to become effective translational scientists.

McQuistonAlexander “Alec” McQuiston

What is something that the other trainees would be surprised to know about you?

I have 6 siblings. 5 brothers and one sister. My oldest brother also got his Ph.D. from MUSC.

What drew you to the TL1 program?

I was drawn to the TL1 program because of its prestigious reputation and the translational opportunities the program offers.

How does the TL1 fit into your prospective career trajectory?

My career goal is to perform groundbreaking translational research that improves patient prognosis. The TL1 program offers both the research and clinical experience that will make my career goal possible.

OlesAlexander “Alex” Oles

What is something that the other trainees would be surprised to know about you?

I enjoy an active lifestyle. I attended Kenyon College as an undergraduate, where I played NCAA DIII college football. Sports and physical well-being an active passion of mine, and I feel like they have shaped my career path to date.

What drew you to the TL1 program?

Attendance at the national ACTS conference and participation in clinical research and translationally focused classes here at MUSC convinced me that this grant would be the next best step in my professional development.

How does the TL1 fit into your prospective career trajectory?

As an M.D. Ph.D. student, the TL1 program provided me with opportunities for education, funding, and networking which would advance me along my trajectory as an aspiring clinician and translational scientist. My ultimate goal is to merge my personal, medical, and academic passions in becoming an orthopedic oncologist, where I will work with children suffering from devastating soft tissue cancers of the connective tissue and skeletal muscle systems. With my training as a TL1 trainee, I hope to gain the skillset required to run a successful translationally focused pre-clinical lab, in conjunction with my work transforming the lives of young children affected by these diseases.

Learn More

Visit the TL1 webpage to learn more about the program and current and past trainees.

Related Link

Faculty Mentoring & Career Development

TL1 News

About the Author

SCTR  Communications
Contact the Communications Team

Keywords: Research Education