Events and Awards

The RNA Institute Events and Awards 


RNA Institute faculty member Melinda Larsen and student


RNA Institute Symposium

The RNA Institute Symposium is held yearly and provides a forum for faculty, students, and industry representatives to present their findings and network with colleagues. It has attracted Nobel Laureates, as well as National Academy Members, distinguished Howard Hughes Medical Institute Principal Investigators, renowned university professors, industry scientists, and medical doctors, among others from around the world. 


STEMTriCS (previously RNA Café)

The STEMTriCS (STEM Trending Careers Seminar) is an invited seminar series for students and postdocs to explore science careers by engaging in a roundtable discussion with credentialed scientists who have pursued careers in or outside of academia. Discussion topics cover an array of subjects related to the speaker(s) career path, personal experiences, and interests. Typically, the sessions address specific aspects of academic training, career goals, aspirations, and tips on becoming successful in reaching goals and achieving career stability.

STEMTriCS exposes students across the science disciplines to careers away from the bench, in teaching, in industry or non-traditional research and development. To be included in the invitation list, or if you would like to be an invited speaker or suggest a speaker, please contact us at [email protected].

December 6, 2022

"Careers at Berkshire Sterile Manufacturing"

Andrea Wagner, Ph.D., Chief Technical Officer & Co-founder, Berkshire Sterile Manufacturing

Jake Krans, Ph.D., Process Engineering Manager, Berkshire Sterile Manufacturing

October 25, 2022

"Oligonucleotide drug discovery and development - from Academia to Industry"

Arijit Bhowmick, Ph.D., Nucleic Acid Therapeutics group, RGM, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals

 September 27, 2022

"Internship Opportunities and Networking during Graduate School"

Christopher Smith, Ph.D. Candidate (Yigit Lab) and RNA Fellow of The RNA Institute, UAlbany

April 18, 2022

"Teaching and Research at a Primarily Undergraduate Institution"

Zuleikha Kurji, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Saint Mary's College of California

Kathryn Sarachan, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Wilson College, Pennsylvania

November 30, 2021

"The Patent Process: An Overview of Patent Application and the Role of a Patent Practitioner"

Michael Krenicky, Patent Attorney, The Research Foundation of SUNY

October 26, 2021

"Biotech Startups: the Uncut Gems Edition"

Mounir Koussa, Ph.D., Co-founder and Vice President of R&D at Vital Biosciences Inc.

September 28, 2021

"Emerging Landscape of Therapeutics Development and Opportunities"

Umut Eser, Ph.D., Chief Innovation Officer at Doctor Evidence, LLC.


Stranded in Science

This seminar series was created and hosted by Dr. Arun Richard Chandrasekaran, Senior Research Scientist at the RNA Institute. This creative series explores the connections between Science, Communication and Art. 

List of Seminars
Fall 2021
Spring 2022
Fall 2022



Career Panels
Summer 2022


RNA Collaborative Seminar Series

The RNA Collaborative seminar series goal is to cross promote RNA research and strengthen and connect the RNA scientific community. RNA Collaborative seminars are held virtually every other Wednesday, from 4:00-5:00 pm EDT (8:00 -9:00 pm GMT) and are recorded and made freely available for viewing on the RNA Collaborative YouTube Channel.

View past and upcoming seminars

These seminars are organized by RNA Centers of the following institutions:

RNA Collaborative 16 Centers
RNA Summer Symposium

In the RNA summer symposium, the trainees from the RNA institute summer research fellowships, bioinformatics program and the NSF REU program presents their research work from over the summer.

2023 RNA Summer Celebration

In 2023, the summer symposium integrated with the RNA Day (AUG 1) celebration with a full day events. Beginning with two keynote seminar by Drs. Marlene Belfort and Sally Temple followed by poster session of the summer program trainees and Science themed bake-off.

See Dr. Belfort's talk on "Science-Life Retrospective for RNA Society's Lifetime Achievement Award" here.


Trainee Travel Award


The RNA Institute Trainee Travel Award 2024

Objective: The Trainee Travel Award provides funds to assist PhD students and Postdoctoral Fellows working in RNA Institute Affiliated labs within the UAlbany system traveling to conferences and/or seminars to present a poster or give an oral presentation at the conference. The poster or presentation must address research on RNA, or use RNA as a tool (siRNA, shRNA, miRNA, RNAi).  The award is not intended to support attending courses at other schools, research or general educational travel.

Eligibility: Graduate students and post-docs are eligible to receive a maximum of $600 (with a cap of $1,200 per lab) Travel Grant. This amount can be used towards one conference during each Calendar year. Applicants must have received commitments from other University sources (such as the faculty mentor, home department or school) to partially cover the costs of the conference or seminar. The grant will be awarded based on the pending availability of funds.

Faculty Mentor Approval & Commitment:  A letter of support from the faculty mentor to provide the remainder of the meeting costs must be submitted with the application. 

Covered Costs: Trainee travel award will only cover the following items: conference registration fees, transportation to/from meeting, lodging, food, and ground transportation while attending the conference. Trainees are expected to find the most reasonable and economical lodging and transportation. For instance, trainees are encouraged to share a room, and it is expected that trainees partake of meals provided as part of the conference rather than incurring additional expenses. Examples of non-covered expenses include: proposal submission and optional pre-conference fees, poster printing, mailing expenses, and internet access while traveling. Do not include non-covered expenses in the application budget.

Air and rail fares and conference registration fees may be charged to an RNA Institute account prior to travel by contacting Paul Gumpper or 518-437-4449 to make arrangements; however, cash advances will not be provided. Expenses for hotel, food, taxis, etc., are to be paid with the trainee’s personal funds and will be reimbursed upon filing of a properly completed Travel Reimbursement form with original receipts. Following are links to the State Accounting General Travel Procedures: State Accounting General Travel Procedures and Travel Reimbursement Procedures.  

Application Instructions:   

  1. The application must be submitted as a single PDF to [email protected]. Please indicate Travel Award Application in the subject line.
  2. Each application should include the following components:
    • Applicant information: name, academic title, expected degree (MS/PhD) and anticipated year of graduation (for graduate students), department, campus address, campus phone number, name of faculty mentor,
    • Conference Information: conference name, location, date(s), sponsoring organization name, brief itemized budget
    • Category of participation (oral presentation or poster), title, abstract (350 words maximum), and a signed letter of support from the faculty mentor to provide the remainder of the meeting costs.

Deadline: In order to best accommodate various conference schedules, applications will be accepted on a rolling basis.  Please apply at least 1 month prior to the conference.

Award Notification: Each trainee will receive an email notification both when the online application is received and when The RNA Institute gives the final approval. The entire process should take between 3-10 business days.

Questions: Please contact [email protected] or call 518-437-4449 with any questions.  Please include your name, department, contact information, and faculty mentor in all messages.


Faculty and Staff Awards

RNA Institute Faculty and Staff Awards

Do you know an RNA Institute faculty or staff member that is doing an exception job in any of the following areas?

  • Excellence in mentoring
  • Excellence in service
  • Excellence in research

Please feel free to nominate them for our annual RNA Institute Faculty and Staff Awards by emailing their name and a brief description of why they are an excellent candidate in one of these three areas to [email protected]. Awards are decided by the Institute senior leadership and presented to awardees during our annual RNA Symposium in the Spring.

Award Winners
Travel Award winners

2022 Travel Award Winners 

  • Chris Smith, ACS Fall 2022: Sustainability in a Changing World
  • Sangeetha Selvam, 2022 RNA Society Meeting
  • Jibin Abraham Punnoose, 2022 RNA Society Meeting
  • Dana Woodstock, Evolution and Core Processes in Gene Expression Meeting
  • Gabriele Baniulyte, Evolution and Core Processes in Gene Expression Meeting
  • Jacob Schroader, Gordon Research Conference and Seminar: 2022 Post-Transcriptional Gene Regulation
  • Johnsi Mathivanan, ACS Fall 2022- Sustainability in a changing world
  • Kristen Kaytes, American Society for Virology (ASV) 2022
  • Lamyaa Almehmadi, The 27th International Conference on Raman Spectroscopy
  • Pheonah Badu, RNA Society Meeting 2022
  • Shu Jun Lin, American Society of Virology 2022
  • Ya Ying Zheng, 2022 ACS Middle Atlantic Regional Meeting (MARM)
  • Avinash Londhe,  Society for Redox Biology and Medicine


Undergraduate Award Winners

 2022 RNA Institute Undergraduate Award Winners

Kevin Thomas-GlennBumpusAwardwinner
Carrson Widen-OralPresentationWinner


Kavipriya Kovai Palanivel-OralPresentationWinner
Kate Sazon-OralPresentationWinner


Nate Forrest-PosterPresentationWinner
Sevinj Mursalova-PosterPresentationWinner


Past Events