Congratulations to Tess Marvin and Tavis Reed, recipients of this year's Cassidy Yang award! The Cassidy Yang awards are given to graduate students who excel in academics in science or engineering and display leadership in mentoring other students, participating in outreach activities, and fostering the graduate student community.
Tess is a very deserving recipient of the Cassidy Yang award. Tess’s interdisciplinary projects span several boundaries of research. For example, in one project, she is analyzing thousands of whole genomes using deep learning models of the human genome to better understand autoimmune kidney disorders. This requires an understanding of human genome regulation, computer science, and clinical and molecular aspects of kidney biology. Tess impressed during her rotation with her computer science knowledge, frank curiosity, and analytical prowess and continues to show a remarkable ability to rapidly grasp concepts and synthesize the implications of her research results. Tess’s excellence goes beyond lab work; she is a community builder. She is one of the QCB students who started a new peer-to-peer presentation series to provide a mechanism for students to present their research to their peers in an informal, fun setting. She is also working on starting a tradition of a BBQ hosted by QCB second years for the incoming first years to make our graduate student community better. She also did an amazing job with her work this summer as a mentor for the Lab Learning Program, a program coordinated through the Dean For Research office that gives high school students summer research opportunities. She mentored two high school students, devising an interesting data analysis project for them, and was able to really engage them in the research. This past year, she also stepped up to help out another department. When several Computer Science graduate students who were supposed to host prospective students contracted COVID, Tess volunteered to cover for them, giving campus tours and helping with other recruiting efforts to serve the larger graduate community. In summary, Tess exemplifies the criteria for the Cassidy Yang award: excellence in academics, outreach, and community building.
Tavis has excelled in both academics and community service at Princeton. In the Cristea lab, Tavis develops experimental methods in virology and mass spectrometry that involve heat, time, and host-host and host-pathogen protein complex resolution, generating large time-resolved datasets of protein-protein interactions. He is also co-mentored by Olga Troyanskaya, where he combines statistical and computational modeling approaches with these large proteomics datasets to discover host and pathogen responses in and across infections of different Herpes viruses in a data-driven manner. His curiosity, drive, and excellent hands at the bench combined with his computational and statistical acumen have propelled him to success: enabling him to present at national meetings at the end of his second year and begin publishing high profile papers in his third year. He has also received an NSF Fellowship. With regard to community service and outreach, Tavis was a Mentor/Advisor to ACT-SO (Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics (ACT-SO) high school students during the NAACP National Convention in Atlantic City this summer. In addition, Tavis mentored two high school students through the DFR Lab Learning program, introducing them to computational biology research and ensuring that they had a fun and very productive learning experience in the lab. Tavis is an outstanding candidate for the Cassidy Young award.