Graduate Students Honored at 12th Annual Scientific Integrity Ceremony

Group photo of students in white coats

The Graduate School honored 55 first-year PhD students at the 12th annual Scientific Integrity Ceremony. This event is a meaningful tradition at Augusta University, serving as an important rite of passage for students as they begin their individual research projects. Students were presented with white coats by their major advisor, who will also place their hood on their shoulders at the conclusion of their PhD journeys. These white coats hold great significance, as they symbolize the high standards of professionalism and integrity expected of students both at AU and throughout their scientific careers. In attendance at the ceremony were family, friends, faculty, and staff all gathered to recognize this important milestone. Guest speakers included Dr. Hoda Maleki from the School of Computer and Cyber Sciences and Dean Beth NeSmith from the College of Nursing.

Both speakers shared remarks on the fundamental values of honesty, integrity, and professionalism in relation to their own personal experiences and career paths. As an experienced and recognized mentor, Dr. Maleki shared her thoughts on the mutually transformative relationship between mentor and mentee. For this to occur, she shared that a mentee must have a willingness to remain open, the courage to share their ideas and ask questions, a precise and honest reporting of what they see, and a desire to be challenged. Mentors must bring an interest in their students’ growth and success as well as a genuine enjoyment in witnessing their contributions to their field of study. Dr. Maleki shared that her passion for working with students developed from the observation that mentorship has the potential to transform not only the individuals, but society as a whole.

Triple AU alum Dean Nesmith also touched on the immense responsibility involved in conducting scientific research. She reflected on her career as a trauma nurse and researcher, simply stating that it all starts with a question and a desire to understand something to improve the world. Her desire to improve patient outcomes lead to where she is today, and she shared her excitement for where the students’ white coats will take them. With her excitement came caution as she highlighted not only the meaning of scientific integrity, but the purpose. She reflected on her experiences navigating difficult situations and stressed the importance of safeguarding the scientific method. Acting with integrity and professionalism sets the tone for public trust and discourse. To be of benefit to the world, scientists must first have trust.

The ceremony also included a recognition of students who were nominated and selected for one of the six AU values awards. Award recipients were as follows:

Collegiality – reflected in collaboration, partnership, sense of community, and teamwork: Albert Okrah (Applied Health Sciences) and Pouria Eslami Rad (Computer & Cyber Sciences)

Compassion – reflected in caring, empathy, and social responsibility: Delphine Okoye (Biomedical Sciences) and Mayesha Mizan (Computer & Cyber Sciences)

Excellence – reflected in distinction, effectiveness, efficiency, enthusiasm, passion, and quality: Mofazzal Hossain (Biomedical Sciences), Jespher Onyango (Applied Health Sciences), and Md Mahmud Hasan (Biostatistics)

Inclusivity – reflected in diversity, equity, fairness, impartiality, and respect: Austin Lowery (Biomedical Sciences)

Integrity – reflected in accountability, ethical behavior, honesty, and reliability: Alireza Taheritajar (Biomedical Sciences) and Adam Jones (Biomedical Sciences)

Leadership – reflected in courage, honor, professionalism, transparency, and vision: Tiffany Colemen (Applied Health Sciences) and Briah Bailey (Biomedical Sciences)

Two faculty members also received awards after being nominated by students for going “above and beyond” in supporting their success. Those faculty members were Dr. Deborah Jehu (Applied Health Sciences) and Dr. Mohsen Jozani (Computer and Cyber Sciences). The Graduate School thanks them for their commitment to students and taking the time to make a difference.

At the closing of the ceremony, students were reminded of the hard-earned responsibility and honor that comes with a white coat. Science is not a solo pursuit, but rather a collaborative one. As these students began their journey towards groundbreaking, life-changing research, they were reminded by an auditorium full of supporters that they don’t have to do it alone.

The Graduate School is proud of our first-year students, and we are excited to see where the process of discovery takes them next!

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Written by
Rebecca Gaylor
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