NIAAA Trainees Network Virtually at National Institutes of Health (NIH) Postbac Poster Day

Image of the NIH Virtual Postbac Poster Day poster.

The NIH postbac intramural research training award (IRTA) program provides recent college graduates who are planning to apply to graduate or professional school an opportunity to spend a year or two performing full-time research at NIH. NIAAA postbacs are hosted in a variety of NIAAA intramural laboratories located in Bethesda and Rockville, Maryland.

In late April, NIH postbaccalaureate researchers (also known as postbacs), including 33 from NIAAA labs, gathered online for the annual NIH Postbac Poster Day. Although this event generally takes place in person, the COVID-19 outbreak led organizers to rethink the event, making it 100 percent virtual.

Nine NIAAA postbacs received an Outstanding Poster Award at the event. Only the top 20 percent of posters received the award, based on review by teams of NIH graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, clinical fellows, staff scientists, and staff clinicians. The NIAAA postbacs who earned this award were Jacob Ballway, Kendall Coden, Danielle Kroll, Katie Teresi, Emily Vogt, Chase Weinholtz, Charles Zawatsky, Kaeli Zoretich, and Leo Zsembik.

This event proved that physical distancing does not mean social isolation. Although research had been largely put on hold at the NIH campus due to precautions for COVID-19, it did not stop these up-and-coming scientists from networking with researchers across NIH. While some postbacs were able to share data they had collected, others shared thoughtful reviews of existing literature or proposals for future projects.