During the pandemic, many people have joined book clubs for a much-needed sense of community. Such groups provide connections that are not so different from those fostered by journal clubs at universities. At Northeast Ohio Medical University, Ph.D. students, faculty and others appreciate journal clubs as places to exchange ideas, build networks of researchers with related interests – and make friends in their field.
A third-year Ph.D. candidate in cell and molecular biology, Lia Gavazzi is enrolled in the Kent State University/NEOMED collaborative Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. program. She is co-advised by Lisa Cooper, Ph.D., an associate professor of anatomy and neurobiology, and Hans Thewissen, Ph.D., Ingalls-Brown Professor of Anatomy at NEOMED. Gavazzi’s dissertation focuses on the evolution and development of whales as they transitioned from to life in the sea.
Participating in NEOMED’s anatomy journal club has been special to her, Gavazzi says, because it’s a great opportunity to discuss ideas with other faculty, graduate students and post-doctoral students. Members of the group also provides useful feedback on grant applications, presentations and drafted manuscripts.
“Every talk and poster that I have given since starting my Ph.D. was greatly improved by their thorough and insightful feedback,” says Gavazzi.
She recently wrote the following reflection:
The anatomy department journal club was already established before I started my graduate work here. It’s a weekly meeting where faculty and trainees can get together and discuss recently published journal articles or receive feedback on their grants/presentations/papers. I joined the group in my first year. Typically, a post-doctoral student or graduate student facilitates these meetings and this year just happens to be my turn. It’s my job to maintain the weekly schedule and organize presenters.
Last semester, we had a program where trainees were paired with a faculty member outside of their specialty. The two would have to select a paper that reflected the interests of both the student and the PI. They would then co-present the article to the group.
Right now, there is an Integrated Musculoskeletal Biology course being taught by most of the anatomy faculty. Our plan is to select and discuss recently published scholarly articles pertaining to musculoskeletal biology that are topically relevant to the weekly lectures of that course.
The anatomy journal club is open to anyone who would like to join, though at the moment it is almost exclusively NEOMED anatomy faculty and graduate students—about 15 of us in all. The group is currently meeting via Zoom, which allows us to invite faculty from other universities to participate as well – something that did not happen often when the group was meeting in person. Other than switching to a remote meeting, the structure and attendance of the journal club remains largely unchanged.
Several other journal clubs also occur on campus. Just across the hall, members of the neurobiology faculty hold their own journal club.