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Envision EEB shows possibilities, delivers skills, builds relationships

The Ecology, Evolution and Behavior (EEB) Program conjured up a crystal ball of program preview this month for prospective graduate students.

EEB Envision guests view a frog at KBS
Three EEB Envision attendees admire one of KBS's residents. 

Envision EEB: Graduate Preview Weekend showed students who historically have been excluded from access to graduate education in the biological sciences what life in MSU's EEB program can hold for them. Ten students from across the United States had a weekend parade of resources, professional development, and collegiality in the second annual event - the first in-person.

"It was very special to connect with this amazing group of students," said integrative biology assistant professor Sarah Fitzpatrick, who co-chaired the event organization with PhD candidate Toby SantaMaria.

"For me, it was important to create an event that demystified the graduate admissions process while also giving students the material skills need to craft successful applications," SantaMaria said. "It's one thing to read about being a successful graduate applicant versus learning the skills in person."

The group engaged with current EEB graduate students and faculty for workshops on the finer points of

Envision participants in professional development session
Professional development was a part of the Envision Preview Weekend

applying to graduate school, including reaching out to potential advisors and how to craft compelling personal statements. They also learned what makes a successful application to some of the significant fellowships, such as the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program and attended a panel discussing on choosing the right program.

The weekend included social events to meeting current students and find out about life in the East

Ten EEB Envision attendees with co-chair Toby SantaMaria
Co-chair Toby SantaMaria (far left)  with EEB Envision attendees

Lansing area and take the school's social temperature. A field trip - with literally a field - to Kellogg Biological Station (KBS) provided a chance to get to know the KBS station's facilities and surrounding experimental sites such as the LTER and KBS pond lab.

"Many of the students really valued seeing the experimental set-ups in the field and I heard quite a bit of conversation about how the resources for research at KBS would benefit their work on the ride back to main campus," said PhD candidate Emily Conway. "Students really liked KBS!"

"Envision EEB is an innovative and spectacular program that grows stronger every year. I really appreciate the commitment and hard work of the EEB

EEB Envision attendees tour KBS
EEB Envision group touring Kellogg Biological Station

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee," EEB Director Elise Zipkin said. "The preview week is not only a great way to show off the tremendous strengths of MSU, but it also helps to support and build a strong community of early career scholars, regardless of where they may end up next year. Everyone benefits from the relationships that were made at this event."

In addition to co-chairs Fitzpatrick and SantaMaria, the event was organized by Conway, Henry Chung, Ben Kline, Cinnamon Mittan and Nicole Wonderlin.