Trainee Association :: The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital

The Research Institute's Trainee Association

The Research Institute’s Trainee Association (RITA) was created in 2013 to help better train and prepare trainees for their “next steps.” All trainees at The Research Institute may participate, including graduate students, postdoctoral scientists and fellows. RITA is similar to other postdoctoral associations at universities and is modeled after guidelines established by the National Postdoctoral Association (of which The Research Institute is a member). 

RITA’s leadership team consists of trainees nominated and elected by their peers. They receive guidance and assistance from an advisory committee of faculty co-advisors and research administrators who are dedicated to helping trainees.

Upcoming Events

RITA Office Elections: June 20-July 3
Click here for information on potential candidates.

RITA Annual Summer Picnic: Wednesday, July 9
Location: RB3 Cafeteria and lawn area
Time: 11AM-2PM (tentative)
Please join us for lunch and fun games!

Trainee Resources

Trainee Database - This tool was created to assist our current trainees in collaborating with one another and to allow prospective trainees to examine our varied and impressive cohort of young scientists.

Trainee Association Calendar

Trainee Teaching Opportunities

Poster of the Week Program

RITA Steering Committee

RITA Officers

Mehmet Yalvac
RITA President

Mehmet is currently a postdoc in Dr. Jerry Mendell’s laboratory at the Center for Gene Therapy.

“I believe that exceptional scientists share common qualities, including being hardworking as well as effective communicators and having networking skills. These skills can only be enriched when an adequate environment is provided to support trainees. As a dynamic source of support for postdoctoral and graduate students at our institution, RITA was established to help all trainees to enhance their professional growth.“

Vikas Saxena
RITA Vice President

Vikas is currently a postdoc in Dr. Christopher Walker's laboratory at the Center for Vaccines and Immunity.

"I want to explore new possibilities at Nationwide Children's Hospital and the best way to do so is by helping other trainees in the Institute. Therefore, I joined RITA. I would be more than happy to help bring out the best of our tenure as trainees in matters pertaining to academics and scientific issues, as well as social issues revolving around this important phase of our career."

Lindsay Wallace
RITA Social Chair

Lindsay is currently a postdoc in Dr. Scott Harper’s laboratory at the Center for Gene Therapy.

“RITA hopes to provide a platform to answer difficult career questions with which all graduate students and postdocs struggle. The association brings together the trainee community for professional (and personal) support.”

Cristina Capella-González
RITA Postdoctoral Representative

Cristina is currently a postdoc in Dr. Mark Peeples’ laboratory at the Center for Vaccines and Immunity.

“As the postdoctoral representative my goal is to foster communication between postdocs, administration and faculty. Through our RITA sponsored lectures and activities, we hope to address some of the issues uniquely faced by postdocs. Overall, our aim is to provide valuable insight to make your future career decisions as successful as possible.”

Carlee Schaefer
RITA Graduate Student Representative

Carlee is a research intern in Dr. Scott Harper’s laboratory at the Center for Gene Therapy.

“I want RITA to build a sense of community among all trainees at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and be a source of useful and relevant information.”

Faculty Co-Directors:

Dawn Chandler, PhD
Heithem El Hodiri, PhD

Faculty Co-Advisors:

Samantha King, PhD
Lynette Rogers, PhD

Administrative Coordinators:

Katie Campbell, Manager of Research Safety & Training Resources
Lauren Kauffman, Research Education Coordinator

Additional Information and Links

Past Events

A Meeting FOR Trainees BY Trainees - May 12, 2014


The Muscle Microenvironment: A niche for the next generation of biomedical scientiests

“Being a Postdoc in the Land of Nobel” - November 22, 2013


Presentation by Joya Chandra, PhD, Associate Professor, Director, ON (Optimizing Nutrition) to Life, Department of Pediatrics Research, Unit 853, Children’s Cancer Hospital at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Trainee Appreciation Week - September 16-20, 2013

The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital held its first Trainee Appreciation Week in conjunction with National Postdoctoral Appreciation Week, September 16-20. Trainee week was organized and hosted by the Research Institute’s Trainee Association (RITA), which includes postdoctoral and graduate student officers as well as faculty advisors and staff administrators. Events for the week included coffee socials, recess day, a Training Transitions panel discussion, and keynote speaker Edward Krug, PhD.


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