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Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training (BEST)

The BEST Program at Wayne State is funded by
NIH grant #DP7OD018427. The grant co-PIs are:

Ambika Mathur, PhD
Associate Provost and
Dean of the Graduate School

Christine Chow, PhD
Professor, Dept. of Chemistry

The BEST Program at Wayne State is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to assist doctoral trainees and postdoctoral scientists in exploring multiple career opportunities, not just those affiliated with university research settings. WSU is one of 17 institutions nationwide to receive a BEST grant. BEST seeks to transform graduate education so that nonacademic careers are viewed as positive outcomes, neither "alternative" nor "second-best."

For more information about the NIH-BEST initiative, see nihbest.org. Read more about how Wayne State's BEST Program is helping to transform graduate education in the US: Article in Science Translational Medicine

Our goal is to help prepare doctoral trainees and postdoctoral scientists to meet the needs of the 21st century economy in a dynamic and evolving job market, in such areas as business and industry, undergraduate teaching, communication, law, and government. The skill sets associated with these fields will be developed in partnership with local and national employers through mentored field experiences to ensure alignment between the employers' expectations and the skills of our trainees. 

Congratulations to our 2017 BEST mini-grant awardees! These new grants will provide academic departments with small grants (up to $5,000) for support of career development initiatives within their graduate programs.  A particular goal of the fund is to encourage collaboration among faculty from multiple departments on career development programming.

BEST Program Success Stories!

Aaron Burr is now a Medical Writer at MMS Holdings Inc. He was a BEST participant in the 2014 pilot program and received his doctorate in cancer biology in 2015. 

Neha Aggarwal, who received her PhD in Physiology in 2015, was hired by the American Society for Clinical Investigation as a Science Communication Specialist. Neha was a 2014-15 BEST participant.

Danielle Dremann, who worked in the Wayne State Office of Research Compliance during the 2014 pilot program, was recently hired by the Promedica Flower Hospital in Toledo. She completed her doctorate in chemistry in 2015.

Maheeka Embogama was a participant in the BEST pilot program in 2014, conducting a career exploration at ArborAssays.  She received her Ph.D. in Chemistry in 2016 and currently works as a Senior Analytical Chemist (R&D) at Avomeen Analytical Services in Ann Arbor.

Sidra Ahsan is now a Product Manager at Advaita Bioinformatics in Plymouth. She was a BEST participant in the 2014 pilot program and received her doctorate in cancer biology in 2015. Read the MichBio story or longer interview on the NIH-BEST website for more on Dr. Sidra Ahsan's transition to a successful career in industry.

Zheni Shen, a PhD in biological sciences and a 2014-15 BEST participant, has accepted a position as Supervising Scientist for Total Toxicology Lab in Southfield, Michigan.

Seema Shah, a 2014-15 BEST Phase III awardee, received her doctorate in cancer biology in 2016.  In January 2017, she will begin working as a staff scientist at her internship site, Life Magnetics in Techtown, Detroit. Read an interview with Seema Shah, Ph.D., about her experience as a Ph.D. student and BEST participant.

Lauren Tanabe, who was a BEST Phase III awardee for 2015-16, was hired as the writer and coordinator of the BEST blog by the Graduate School in 2016. She received her Ph.D. from Columbia University in 2010 and was a postdoctoral fellow at Wayne State from 2013-17. Dr. Tanabe is a freelance writer and editor.

Dulmini Barupala, who was a BEST Phase III awardee for 2014-15 and received her Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in 2016, was hired as the coordinator of the Wayne Med-Direct Program by the Graduate School in 2016.

Students from the following departments have participated in BEST activities since the program began:

  • Communication
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Biological Sciences
  • Chemistry
  • Communication Sciences and Disorders
  • Nutrition and Food Sciences
  • Physics
  • Psychology
  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
  • Cancer Biology
  • Immunology
  • Molecular Biology and Genetics
  • Pathology
  • Pharmacology
  • Translational Neurosciences
  • Nursing
  • Pharmaceutical Sciences
  • Social Work
  • Political Science
  • English
  • Sociology

See the tabs at the right side of this site for more detailed information.