Special Reports
September / October 2019

ISPE Foundation Student Travel Grant Recipients Speak Out

ISPE
ISPE Foundation® Student Travel Grant Recipients Speak Out - ISPE Pharmaceutical Engineering

The ISPE Foundation® awarded 14 Student Travel Grants to bring 14 students to the 2018 ISPE Annual Meeting & Expo. Investing in the next generation of pharmaceutical engineers is a goal of the Foundation, which was formed in 2018.


Two students received the Women in Pharma® Foundation Student Travel Grant. The other 12 students won their Chapter or Affiliate’s International Student Poster Competition and received Travel Grants in recognition of that achievement. Each student received the cost of registration and a stipend of $500 for travel within the US or $1,000 for international travel.

Travel Grant Recipients

Recipients of the Women in Pharma Student Travel Grants

  • Jordan Krist, University of Colorado Boulder
  • Damilola Oluyemo, master’s program enrollee, Rutgers University

International Student Poster Competition Winners

  • Abed Abugherir, San Jose State University
  • Marty Burns, Stevens Institute of Technology—PhD candidate and winner of the graduate International Student Poster Competition
  • Kirivann Chhoeun, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
  • Boonta Chutvirasakul, Mahidol University, Visiting Scholar at University of Kansas
  • Mia Hall, North Carolina Central University
  • Kinza Hussein, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
  • Nick Lewis, University of California San Diego
  • Cy Rodriguez, University of the Philippines—winner of the undergraduate International Student Poster Competition
  • Nicole Rosselli, Rowan University
  • Vishnu Sunil, National University of Singapore
  • Lilley Tran, San Jose State University
  • Melissa Wooten, North Carolina Central University

In Their Own Words

The Women in Pharma application required students to write about why they believed they should receive the grant to attend 2018 ISPE Annual Meeting & Expo; International Poster Competition participants wrote essays on what it means to them to be able to attend 2018 ISPE Annual Meeting & Expo.

The following are excerpts from attendees’ essays about their experiences at the 2018 ISPE Annual Meeting & Expo. Their feedback demonstrates the tremendous value the 2018 ISPE Annual Meeting & Expo has for budding pharmaceutical engineers and the industry they are joining.

Abed Abugherir

The 2018 ISPE Annual Meeting & Expowas astounding! The event was so organized and informational, allowing attendees to learn and be enlightened with the different pharmaceutical topics available. Personally, I have gained a bright insight on what the industry is doing to improve the technology in drug production and delivery, as well as improving patients’ lives by finding cures for rare diseases. The booths in the exhibit hall were amazing in terms of how friendly the people were as they explained their functions and goals.

In regard to the International Student Poster Competition, it was fantastic to learn about what other students are researching at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Also, competing with them allows one to know that the research done is great because it is on an international level over-all.

Marty Burns

I’ve had the opportunity to participate in many conferences, poster sessions, and networking events, but the 2018 ISPE Annual Meeting & Expo stands apart. The social, professional, and scientific presence at the meeting was key to making it so enjoyable. I was very impressed by the attention and access given to Young Professionals (YPs), both in the social events and in the technical material presented. ISPE organized many exciting events for us, including multiple networking sessions, a brewery tour, and a dinner party featuring many excellent restaurants unique to Philadelphia. The 2018 ISPE Annual Meeting & Expogave me an excellent opportunity to network with students and professionals alike. The camaraderie and friendliness among the poster competitors was excellent, and I feel like I made some amazing friends through the conference. I also got to meet many of the people responsible for these events and for implementing ISPE’s focus on YPs, and it was clear that they were very in touch with our interests as individuals and professionals. The 2018 ISPE Annual Meeting & Expo also gave me the opportunity to expand and develop professionally. I was able to participate in workshops beyond my experience and expertise, and felt nothing but support and inclusion from the others present. By talking with these professionals from a wide range of disciplines I managed to gain new perspectives on my own research and get a look at the industry ahead of me after my degree.

I think what really struck me about the 2018 ISPE Annual Meeting & Expo was how invested everyone was in the pharmaceutical industry. This industry is united behind a very powerful and motivating goal: to help people by developing better treatments. This cause goes very far to unite people across various disciplines, leading to some truly awe-inspiring innovation across the board.

Kirivann Chhoeun

The most wonderful part of the 2018 ISPE Annual Meeting & Expo was the networking—the meeting of minds and all the new friendships made with fellow students and even professionals. It was truly an incredible experience to be able to participate and represent the Boston Chapter at the 2018 ISPE Annual Meeting & Expo. The competition helped to build confidence and allowed students to practice presentation and communication skills. The different research projects gave me a different perspective on what the life sciences can entail as well as the different backgrounds that ISPE is able to bring together. Not only did I meet fellow students from the national chapters, I also made friendships with people from international affiliates and got to pick at professionals’ brains and learn about their personal experiences abroad.

The conference tracks were very high level for students’ knowledge base, in general. I attended most of the sessions for the Regulatory track, and it was very insightful. Most of the theoretical presentations were relevant to my personal studies, while other presentations were very involved and specific to certain manufacturing and regulatory practices. Just to hear the discussions and the types of questions asked by professionals during these sessions forced a student like myself to stretch my mind just a bit further to see what is over the horizon. It allowed me to see what different directions I may take my master’s in regulatory affairs in the future.

I strongly recommend that students attend the 2018 ISPE Annual Meeting & Expo and maintain ISPE membership. The organization has so much to offer, including the knowledge base about upcoming and existing technologies and manufacturing practices. It was a privilege to be able to participate this year. I’m truly thankful for the opportunity!

Boonta Chutvirasakul

This opportunity allowed me to explore the beautiful and historic city of Philadelphia for the first time and also offered an incredible platform to learn and connect with many wonderful and talented people. It was my honor to earn this privileged opportunity. This platform has given me knowledge, connection, and transformation. ISPE community is warm, with many experienced professionals. They have delivered latest pharmaceutical trends and technology to move forward pharmaceutical products and precision medicines for patients’ better quality of life. To achieve these goals, we cannot perform alone; we need help and support from everyone to make contributions to solve our current problems. I have found my passion is to be interested in real issues in pharmaceutical industry, and this driving force inspires me every day to perform what needs to be done to make a difference in our society. By presenting my work at the 2018 ISPE Annual Meeting & Expo, I learned and connected with other experts in many different fields. I was so grateful to have such insightful conversations with these wonderful people—to know who they are, what they do, and how they have overcome their struggles. This process has given me an opportunity to know and transform myself into who I want to be.

Mia Hall

The networking sessions and seminars were where I was able to get the most information about the industry and the different pathways people took. For example, at the first-timers’ breakfast, three speakers told us how they went from where they started in the industry to where they are now. It was very interesting to see what I have in common as a graduate student with some of the professionals who have been working for many years in the industry. In one networking session, we did a “speed dating” activity for networking, and I really enjoyed that because I was able to talk with multiple people and ask questions and learn. The social events were a great way to top off the trip and wind down after attending the seminars. It was also a great way to keep networking in a less formal way and get to know people’s fun side.

Kinza Hussain

The ISPE app was a useful tool that I used daily during my time at the 2018 ISPE Annual Meeting & Expo because it allowed me to easily access the schedule and locations for several workshops. I attended the Young Professionals & Student Orientation Brunch, where I networked with YPs and received career advice from professionals in the industry.

On day 2, the other undergraduate and graduate student poster competitors and I stood by our posters in the Expo Hall. Many people came to our posters to learn more about our research. I appreciated this because it gave me the chance to present my research and network with distinguished individuals. It was also great practice for our upcoming presentations to the competition judges. More importantly, I had the opportunity to learn about everyone else’s research.

I thank the ISPE Foundation® for awarding me the remarkable opportunity to attend the 2018 ISPE Annual Meeting & Expo. I will remember this experience for a lifetime, and I anticipate I will participate in upcoming meetings. The networking and informational sessions are a valuable experience that I can recommend to anyone in the fields of science or engineering. Thank you, ISPE, for adding value to my academic career and inspiring me to reach new heights in the future.

Nick Lewis

From getting exposure to a cutting-edge and impactful industry to staying in a city with rich American history, my time at the 2018 ISPE Annual Meeting & Expo was filled with experiences that I know will help me grow as a person. I love being involved with academic research, and I especially love sharing my research with all who are interested. The poster competition was a very meaningful experience that I will never forget. Not only did I get to share my work with others, but I also got to learn about what other students are researching. All the other poster presenters were friendly and conducting interesting work, making them great competition as well as good people to network with. The other presenters had a range of scientific backgrounds and came from across the US as well as other countries. This diversity allowed me to take a lot from the experience in terms of the actual science behind each presenter's research as well as from the social aspect of this experience. Having our posters up in the exhibit hall made me really feel like I was a part of the event, that I was a future professional among many current professionals.

The conference was huge, exposing me to so many people with so many different backgrounds. I enjoyed talking with the professionals about my research and their interests as well. This event exposed me to so many disciplines within pharmaceutical engineering that I had never been exposed to, allowing my potential career paths to expand.

Cy Rodriguez

The 2018 ISPE Annual Meeting & Expo completely exceeded my expectations in all aspects: the lessons I couldn’t have learned anywhere else, the what-I-thought-were-impossible networks I gained, the treasured memories I made, and all the out-of-reach opportunities that were suddenly made available to me. Learning from leading experts about everything from the recent advancements in life-cycle process validation to Good Manufacturing Practices specially tailored for YPs was an experience I will never encounter inside a classroom. More importantly, I learned valuable lessons about the distinct views, professional interactions, and skills that encourage wholesome development as a YP. These were worth more than to the cost of attending this conference, although I was fortunate to have my registration and travel generously subsidized by the ISPE Foundation®.

Nicole Rosselli

I have never attended an event even remotely comparable to the 2018 ISPE Annual Meeting & Expo. I met such incredible colleagues and professionals and made a handful of friends from all over the world. It gave me a unique opportunity to really get to know other people and learn from their experiences. It played such a major role in helping me figure out what I want to do once out of college. I was inspired after every conversation I had and felt encouraged to know all of the possibilities that await me. Overall, I also learned of an amazing society and group of people that I would like to associate myself with for the rest of my career. Every single person I met was so supportive of me as a young student and showed enthusiasm to help and mentor me in my future endeavors. ISPE creates a community of people who strive to encourage and strengthen each other in their careers. I was so inspired over the four days I spent at the 2018 ISPE Annual Meeting & Expo that I want to continue to engage with ISPE in the future, continue building the relationships I made, and eventually inspire others in the way I was inspired.

Thank you, ISPE, for adding value to my academic career and inspiring me to reach new heights in the future.

Vishnu Sunil

Before the poster exhibitions began, I attended the Young Professionals & Student Orientation Brunch, where I got to meet my peers and discuss several ideas that I had in mind. The talks by the senior members were very useful, as they explained what ISPE is all about. They emphasized that we should use this opportunity not only to gain knowledge about the different aspects of the pharma industry but also to interact and network with industry professionals. It was interesting to hear their opinions on where the industry is heading and how as the young community, we can shape the future of the medtech/pharma industry.

This conference was very different from the ones I had attended previously; it was a very industry-focused conference. Hence, I got the opportunity to meet many of the big names in the industry. The positive comments that I received from people who approached me have motivated me to continue working harder than ever. ISPE organized many networking events in both formal and informal settings, from the Yard visit to the night at the Reading Terminal Market. This was a wonderful opportunity to connect with fellow students and YPs who have just entered the industry.

The job fair held at the conference was very useful. I actually got two job offers! It gave me an idea about what the pharma companies need and how best to mold my skill set to address their requirements. I also received some great advice on which companies to approach.

Other than meeting a lot of like-minded and bright individuals, it was the judges’ evaluations that I liked the most. They mentioned both positive aspects about my presentation and things that I could improve. I believe this feedback is very important to improve as a presenter.

Lilley Tran

From my trip, one of the many lessons that has resonated with me is the value of networking. Because ISPE is composed of professionals from all walks of life, the experiences and knowledge that are shared are priceless. Even as a new graduate, I realize that my journey and success are never achieved alone because there are others all around me in the same boat. Learning about people and getting to know how they got to a point in their life helps me understand more about the industry and what professional development is essential for growth. I would personally like to give a huge thank you to all the people who make ISPE what it is today. Your commitment is truly why I choose to be part of an amazing organization.

Because ISPE is composed of professionals from all walks of life, the experience and knowledge that are shared are priceless.

Melissa Wooten

In addition to socializing with colleagues from other institutions and a trip to one of the pertinent areas for pharmaceutical research, the three high-lights of attending the 2018 ISPE Annual Meeting & Expo were hearing presentations during the workshops, presenting my own research, and conversing with other YPs. Going to the workshops informed me of what others are doing in a way that is clearer than the published paper because we had the ability to ask questions. The workshops also inspired research ideas of our own and exposed us to different roles that are needed in the pharmaceutical industry. I learned that listening to the talks is valuable, and that hallway conversations can be even more beneficial. Engaging with others in pharmaceutical industry is the priority to further improve patient lives because that is how ideas are shared.

The poster presentation was the opportunity tell others about my research. I had to think about how to frame my research topic to express how relevant it is. This is an important skill for me to develop not just for a conference but in general, as researchers are always having to express why their research is important. I was able to practice with my competitors (who became more like friends than competition) and then further refined my presentation during breaks and meals at the conference. I returned from the 2018 ISPE Annual Meeting & Expo more excited about my research than when I left. I was reminded that I am headed toward my career goals and others are excited for me. As I refined my presentation during the conference, I learned to talk first about the goals of my research, and then follow about the techniques. You have to convince others that the work is worth hearing about before they will be willing to listen to the technical details. I really learned how to “sell” the importance of my research.

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