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. 

Save the date! March 17-18, 2022

Click here to register!

RNA Café

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

The RNA Café exposes students across the science disciplines to careers away from the bench, 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].

Upcoming Seminars


Past Seminars

RNA Cafe flyer
October 25th, 2020
RNA Cafe flyer Feb 2020
February 27, 2020
RNA Collaborative

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 upcoming seminars

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

RNA Collaborative 16 Centers


Student Travel Award

Graduate students and post-docs working in RNA Institute-affiliated labs are eligible to receive a maximum of $600 via the Travel Award program. This amount may be used towards one conference. Applications will not be accepted for conferences attended prior to the award date. Preference will be given to senior graduate students and/or graduate students who have not attended a meeting previously. Applicants must have received commitments from other University sources (such as the faculty mentor, home department, or school) to cover the remaining costs of the conference or seminar. Only one award will be awarded per fiscal year (July 1- June 30) per awardee. Conference Travel Grants will only cover the following items: conference registration fees, transportation to/from meeting, lodging, food, and ground transportation while attending the conference.

Travel awards will be considered on a rolling basis subject to availability of funds.

Contact [email protected] or 518-437-4443, with questions about the program and eligibility.

Objective of the Award

The Travel Award provides funds to assist graduate students and postdoctoral fellows working in labs within the UAlbany system traveling to conferences and/or seminars to present a poster or give an oral presentation. The poster or presentation must address research on RNA metabolism and/or RNA binding proteins or use RNA as a tool (siRNA, shRNA, miRNA, RNAi, etc). The award cannot be used to attend courses at other schools, fund research, or general educational travel.


Graduate students and post-docs are eligible to receive a maximum of $600. This amount may be used towards one (1) conference. Applications will not be accepted for conferences attended prior to the award date. Preference will be given to applicants who are graduating and applicants who have not previously attended a scholarly conference or meetings. Only one (1) award will be awarded per fiscal year (July 1- June 30) per awardee.

Faculty Mentor Approval and Commitment

A letter of support from a faculty mentor is required to provide the remainder of the participation costs. (See Application Instruction no. 2 below for additional details.)

Award Parameters 

The award for each cycle must be used prior to the next award cycle. For accounting purposes, reimbursement requests for the April 1st cycle must be received in the Accounting Office by July 31st. The RNA Institute should be recognized on the poster and/or during the presentation as a funding source (along with other funding sources), and an Institute decal will be provided to affix to your poster. You may request usage of the Institute logo. As part of the award, please plan to provide the Institute with follow-up content such as pictures of your poster/presentation, pictures of the conference venue or signage, link to your inclusion on the conference website, etc., link to research blog, or video channel to promote your participation and the Travel Award.

Covered Costs 

The Travel Award covers only the following items: conference registration fees, transportation to/from the venue, lodging, food, and local/public transportation while attending the conference. Recipients are expected to find the most reasonable and economical lodging and transportation. Where possible and appropriate, please share rooms, partake in the meals provided as part of the conference, and share rental cars and taxis with other attendees. (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.

Travel Arrangements 

Air and rail fares must be booked through a university approved travel agency after receiving your award letter. Air, rail, and conference registration fees can be paid directly using The RNA Institute account by coordinating with Lisset Drislane after receiving an award letter. Cash advances will not be provided. Expenses for lodging, meals, taxis, etc., are to be paid with your personal funds and will be reimbursed upon completing the Travel Reimbursement form with original receipts. Please access the links to the State Accounting General Travel Procedures and Travel Reimbursement Procedures

Award Notification 

Each awardee will an award letter via email once The RNA Institute selects the successful applications. The letter will note the amount awarded as well as instructions about using the award and seeking reimbursement. (The amount is based on the number of applicants and the availability of funds each cycle.)


Reimbursement forms and original receipts should be submitted to Paul Gumpper (office no. LSRB 2033G). Funds are distributed to the recipient after traveling and the appropriate paperwork with receipts are received and processed by the Accounting Office. We are committed to expediting this process but it typically takes between 2 – 3 weeks before checks arrive. (Checks are mailed by the Accounting Office to the address you provide in your paperwork.)

Application Instructions

  1. The application must be submitted as a single PDF to [email protected].
  2. Each application must include the following:
    1. Applicant Information: name, academic title, expected degree (MS/PhD) and anticipated year of graduation (for graduate students), department, campus address, campus phone number, faculty mentor.
    2. Conference Information: Conference name and/or meeting title, location, date(s), sponsoring organization, itemized budget along with a brief justification of amount requested, type of professional organization (international, national, regional).
    3. Category of Participation (oral presentation or poster), title, abstract (350 words maximum), statement of relevance to RNA science (150 words maximum).
    4. Letter of Support: A signed letter of support from the faculty mentor endorsing your participation and offer to provide the remainder of the participation costs.
  3. You will receive an email confirmation that your application was received – usually within 24 hours.

Contact The RNA Institute at [email protected] with questions about the program and eligibility.

Recent Travel Award Winners

Timothy Czajka: Timothy attended the Antibody Engineering and Therapeutics Conference in San Diego from December 9-13, 2018.  He presented a poster entitled “Intracellular Neutralization of Ricin’s A Chain with Single Domain Antibodies.”

Rebecca DEsposito

Rebecca D’Esposito: Rebecca attended the American Society for Mass Spectrometry (ASMS) Conference from June 3-7, 2018 in San Diego. This national conference focused on many topics including nucleic acids and computational methods for ion mobility, both of which directly relate to her research. Her poster presentation focused on using ion mobility-mass spectrometry to analyze and verify DNA nanotechnology structure.

Phensinee Haruehanroengra

Phensinee Haruehanroengra: Phensinee attended the conference RNA Therapeutics:  From Base Pairs to Bedsides from June 28-29, 2018 in Worcester, Massachusetts. She presented a poster titled “The necessity of terpene chain length on base pairing discrimination of nature’s selection S-geranyl-2-thiouridine.”

Sangeetha Selvam: Sangeetha, a Postdoctoral Associate from Fuchs Lab, presented a poster entitled “Peptide Tagging of Translation Initiation Factors for Single-Molecule Studies” at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory-Translational Control Meeting between Sept 4-8, 2018. 

Fusheng Shen

Fusheng Shen: Fusheng attended the Northeast Nanomaterials Meeting (NENM) and presented a poster entitled “Synthesis and crystal structure studies of 2’-5’-linked RNA duplexes.”

Justin Waldern

Justin Waldern: Justin attended the Transposable Elements 2018 meeting at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, November 1-4th. This meeting brings together mobile element researchers from all over the world.  He gave a talk entitled “Mobile group II intron distribution and host-gene interplay” on his research on group II introns, self-splicing ribonucleoproteins that are also mobile elements, capable of invading DNA through retrotransposition (during which the RNA of the group II intron is reverse transcribed to DNA using its own intron encoded protein). His talk highlighted what genes group II introns are found in, and how the function of those genes may relate to the biology of the group II introns.

Undergraduate Awards

March 2021

Kamana Devkota
Upcoming and Past Events