Congratulations To Our 2021 Graduates

Student Awards
Monday, May 24, 2021

WCGS celebrated our 69th Convocation and Commencement Ceremonies last week where we honored the 2021 graduating class. With over one thousand students and four hundred faculty members, WCGS provides a rich and diverse atmosphere that fosters superior scientific training. Although the 2021 graduating class came to Weill Cornell from different backgrounds, they all shared a desire to pursue their passions and test their creativity. They have produced outstanding scholarship in diverse disciplines, from fundamental biologic processes to potential advances in patient care.

It is our privilege to acknowledge the quality and impact of science performed by all of our students throughout their tenure at Weill Cornell. The graduating class of 2021 made significant advances in several scientific fields, including the areas of cancer detection and metastasis, the influence of the microbiome on immunity, precision therapies based on epigenomic signatures, and machine learning. Their work, a prolific 79 peer-reviewed first authored and 258 team authored articles, has been published in such world-renowned journals as Nature, Cell, and Science.

Once again, congratulations to all of the students in the 2021 graduating class! The following students and faculty received awards for their academic and scientific accomplishments at Convocation.

Distinguished Alumnus Award 

Established in 1997, the Weill Cornell Graduate School Distinguished Alumnus Award is given in recognition of outstanding contributions to biomedical research and education. 

Eric Huang, M.D. 86, Ph.D. ’93 
Professor of Pathologyat theUniversity of California San Francisco School ofMedicine 

Julian R. Rachele Prize 

Named for a former Dean of the Graduate School, the Rachele Prize is the highest student award presented by the school. It is awarded to students who have published significant research in a scientific journal during the prior year. This year, two students received the Rachele Prize: 

Gary Dixon, Ph.D. for “QSER1 protects DNA methylation valleys from de novo methylation”. Science 372, 9 April 2021. BCMB Program, PI Danwei Huangfu. 

Ke Xu, Ph.D. for “Glycolysis fuels phosphoinositide 3-kinase signaling to bolster T cell immunity”. Science 371,22 January 2021. IMP Program, PI Ming Li.  

Student Diversity Award 

Christopher Bourne, IMP Program, PI David Scheinberg
Spearheaded the creation of the Social Justice and Anti-Racism Taskforce (SJAR) at Weill Cornell Medicine. Also active in our ACCESS program, a graduate school pipeline program offered to students from underserved populations. 

Student Outreach Award 

Camir Ricketts, Ph.D., Tri-Institutional Computational Medicine Program, PBSB, PI Iman Hajirasouliha
Founder of “Minds Of Jamaica” a platform that connects underrepresented minority students with professionals in genomics and data science.

Student Service Award 

Thomas Rossetti, Pharmacology Program, PI Lonny Levin and PI Jochen Buck
Kysta DiKun, Pharmacology Program, PI Lorraine Guda
Co-Chairs of the 40th Annual Vincent du Vigneaud Memorial Virtual Symposium  

Distinguished Student Commencement Speaker Award 

Jordana Thibado, Ph.D., PBSB Program, PI Joshua Levitz

Vincent dVigneaud Symposium Awards 


1st Place: Thasin Peyear, “The Time Course of Amphiphile Translocation Across Lipid Bilayers.”  
PI Olaf Andersen.

2nd Place: Nicholas Bartelo, “Predicting Risk of Disease Progression for Pre-diabetic Patients.”  
PI Olivier Elemento. 

3rd Place: Tran Hoang, “Detecting EGFR Expression in Bladder Cancer Using [89Zr]Zr-DFO-Panitumumab immunoPET imaging.” PI Jason Lewis.


1st Place: Anthony Antonelli, “Mycobacterium bovis BCG Induces CD4 T Cell-Dependent Tumor Immunity Against Bladder Cancer via Tumor-Intrinsic Interferon Gamma Signaling.”  PI Michael Glickman.

2nd Place: Robert Myers, “A Single-Cell Multiomic Investigation of JAK2 V617F Mutant Myeloproliferative Neoplasms.” PI Dan-Avi Landau.

3rd Place: Katherine Lopez, “Maternal Postpartum Exercise Mitigates the Metabolic Cost of a Fat Rich Diet.” PI Miklos Toth.

3rd Place: Jessica Falci, “Novel Autophagy Activators for Aggregated Tau Degradation.” PYueming Li.


1st Place: Bobbie Pelham-Webb, “The Molecular Resetting of Pluripotent Stem Cell Identity during Mitotic Exit.” PI Effie Apostolou. 

2nd Place: Aleksandr Talishinsky, “Distinct Transcriptomic Signatures Predict Sexually Dimorphic Connectivity Changes in Depression.” PI Conor Liston.

3rd Place: Tomer Yaron,” Phosphorylation of SARS-CoV-2 Nucleocapsid Protein Selectively Regulates Viral and Host RNA-Protein Binding and is Essential for Viral Infection.” PI Olivier Elemento and PI Lewis Cantley. 

3rd Place: Alexandra Miller, “A Novel Reporter System Identifies Iron Uptake Virulence Genes in Mycobacteria.” PI Sabine Ehrt

Excellence in Teaching and Mentoring Award 

Carl Nathan, M.D.R.A. Rees Pritchett Professor of Microbiology  
Chairman, Department of Microbiology and Immunology  
Professor of Microbiology and Immunology  
Professor of Medicine  

IMP Mentoring Award 

Alexander “Sasha” Rudensky, Ph.D. 
Chairman, Immunology Program, SKI 
Director, Ludwig Center at MSK 
Co-Chair, IMP Program  

Neuroscience Mentoring Award 

Anna Orr, Ph.D. 
Assistant Professor of Neuroscience 
Brain and Mind Research Institute 

PBSB Mentoring Award  

Lucy A Skrabanek, Ph.D. 
Assistant Professor of Computational Biomedicine in Physiology and Biophysics  

Faculty Diversity Award 

Bjorn F Kafsack, Ph.D., MHS, M.S.    
Assistant Professor of Microbiology and Immunology  

Monica Guzman, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Pharmacology in Medicine

Dean Hempstead, WCGS Convocation

Dr. Barbara Hempstead, M.D., Ph.D, Dean of Weill Cornell Medicine Graduate School of Medical Sciences, addresses the graduating class of 2021 at the Convocation Ceremony.



















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