Go to Grow - Usha Mahawar’s Travel Grant Experience

A student presenting their research poster at a conferenceI'm Usha Mahawar, a 5th-year Ph.D. student working under Dr. Binks Wattenberg's guidance in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in the School of Medicine (SOM). I stumbled upon an excellent opportunity to apply for travel grants on the Graduate School website. These grants are highly esteemed and help cover travel, accommodation, registration fees, and other associated expenses. They have been incredibly helpful as our lab is currently facing funding difficulties. Without them, we couldn't afford to attend conferences. The grant will cover up to $500, enough to cover a considerable conference expenditure. Our Principal Investigator (PI) covered the rest of the associated costs using lab funds.

Thankfully, I've been awarded the travel grant thrice for the following conferences: The Experimental Biology Meeting 2021, 55th Southeastern Regional Lipid Conference, and 57th Southeastern Regional Lipid Conference . We selected conferences based on our research interests in Sphingolipid biochemistry and neurobiochemistry, recommendations from my PI, networking opportunities, and potential collaborative findings. These conferences have helped me gain an enhanced scientific outlook on Sphingolipid biochemistry and created crucial networking opportunities with researchers worldwide.

For my fellow graduate students who are hesitant to attend conferences, I would like to say a simple line: “To go is to grow.” Attending conferences not only supports one’s growth in scientific aptitude but also boosts one's confidence to present and discuss research ideas with scientists worldwide. My passion lies in being a scientist, and I aspire to continue my academic career as a professor. I wish to run my laboratory and encourage and mentor young and upcoming scientists.

The Graduate School will open funding for Spring 2024 travel grants in January. We hope you consider applying!