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. 


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


Trainee Travel Award


The RNA Institute Trainee Travel Award 2022

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 $1,600 per lab) Travel Grant. This amount can be used towards one conference during each Fiscal 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.

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.
  1. 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

    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 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


    Upcoming and Past Events