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2020 Annual Report

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This is the 2020 Annual Report for Van Andel Institute.

Van Andel Institute

Van Andel Institute Graduate School, in the words of its students To understand what it’s like at Van Andel Institute Graduate School, we sat down with our Ph.D. candidates to hear what they had to say about learning from VAI’s world-class scientists. “I liked the idea of small class sizes and the problem-based learning approach, because I knew I would be challenged to a greater extent than at other institutions. Furthermore, I was intrigued by the exciting and high-quality research taking place at the Institute.” — Shelby Compton, Ph.D. candidate in the lab of Dr. Russell Jones “Van Andel Institute was the first community to give me the opportunity to get research experience as an intern, and I feel a certain level of loyalty for that. More importantly, after working at the Institute for several years, I witnessed firsthand the quality of research being conducted here and the respect VAI shows all its scientists.” — Jordan Prahl, Ph.D. candidate in the lab of Dr. Gerry Coetzee “Having smaller-sized classes helps foster a community within the graduate program and ensures that no one is really a stranger here. The problem-based learning was another draw, as this approach felt very similar to my projects at the NIH [National Institutes of Health] and felt like a more natural progression of knowledge and understanding of the material.” — Lauren McGee, Ph.D. candidate in the lab of Dr. Matt Steensma 20 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2020

RESEARCH “Medical school provides a solid foundation for the basic sciences, but it doesn’t train you how to ‘think like a scientist’ or how to conduct biomedical research. In graduate school, I’ve developed a complementary set of skills in order to apply my previous medical knowledge. Ultimately, I feel as though dual training is synergistic, in that my development as a physician and as a researcher is enhanced by both training paradigms.” — Dylan Dues, M.D./Ph.D. student in the lab of Dr. Darren Moore “After finishing my bachelor’s degree, I never wanted to sit in a large lecture hall-style class again. The student-led discussions and practical learning applications at the Graduate School are an excellent way to learn in a way that is particularly relevant to Ph.D. careers. I am constantly impressed by the amount of resources and support we receive. I knew it was good when I accepted admission, but the more I compare with my peers at other schools, the more I realize what a uniquely supportive environment we have at the Institute.” — Emery Haley, Ph.D. candidate in the lab of Dr. Juan Du “The small class size and faculty-to-student ratio was one of the main selling points for me — I knew that I would not fall through the cracks. This was also apparent from interacting with current students; they had a strong sense of camaraderie as a student body and were very satisfied with their graduate school experience. I was also very attracted by the annual travel funds that would allow me to network and present my project even during my first year of graduate school.” — Menusha Arumugam, Ph.D candidate in the lab of Dr. Matt Steensma For more about the Graduate School, visit vaigs.vai.org. VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2020 | 21

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