The Research Institute’s Trainee Association (RITA)

The Abigail Wexner Research Institute’s Trainee Association (RITA) was created in 2013 to help better train and prepare trainees for their “next steps.” All trainees at AWRI 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.

Click here to download the 2016 RITA Welcome Booklet for new trainees.

Visit the RITA Facebook group!

Steering Committee

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Andrea Byrum, PhD
Chair
Postdoctoral scientist, Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Diseases

Andrea Byrum, PhD, is a postdoctoral scientist in the Lessnick Lab in the Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Diseases. Dr. Byrym thinks it is important for postdoctoral scientists to surround themselves with strong mentors and a network of colleagues who can offer guidance, support and camaraderie.

Dr. Byrum received her bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from Denison University in 2014, where she was also a member of the women’s soccer team. She went on to pursue her doctorate degree in Molecular Genetics and Genomics at Washington University in St. Louis, in the Mosammaparast Lab. Dr. Byrum then returned to Columbus, where she was born and raised, to join the Lessnick Lab, where she studies the role of ETS transcription factors in Ewing sarcoma.

Outside of the lab, Dr. Byram is an avid runner who loves to train and run races of all distances, especially with friends and with her racing team, the Rogue Racers. She is also a sports fanatic who lives for watching and attending Buckeye football and Columbus Crew Soccer Club games.

Julia Penatzer

Julia Penatzer
Networking & Professional Development Officer

Siddhi Nath Paudel

Siddhi Nath Paudel
International Representative Officer
Graduate Student, Hematology and Oncology

Siddhi is a graduate student in the Cripe Lab. He moved to the United States to explore his passion for science after completing his undergraduate degree in Biotechnology from Kathmandu University in Nepal.

Most of the incoming international trainees are transitioning from a different social and cultural environment to fulfil their passion for research. This change may bring a range of challenges, including anxiety, personal disorientation and frustration that can impact work life. It is important to recognize culture shock as a potential problem international trainees might face during this shift. Siddhi’s first-hand experience of the transition has equipped him with the expertise to support trainees through a smooth transition to research and create a sustainable environment to harness ideas and knowledge from the global community.

When not keeping busy with research, you can find Siddhi surfing Netflix, hiking or trying different international cuisines around Columbus.

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Matt Nazzaro
Resource Development Officer

Matthew Alonzo

Matthew Alonzo
Postdoctoral Representative

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Jessica Herstine
Graduate Student Representative

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Jacqueline Penaloza
Community Outreach Officer

Administrative Coordinators

Katie Campbell

Katie Campbell
Director of Research Safety & Training Resources 

Sara Marchionda

Sara Marchionda
Research Education Coordinator