Skip to Main Content

News Center

School of Pharmacy Celebrates Graduation Milestone for PhD and MS Students

Diverse cohort of scholars represent seven graduate programs.

PhD in PSC graduates for 2024

By Andrew Tie
May 22, 2024

The University of Maryland School of Pharmacy (UMSOP) celebrated hundreds of graduates in the Class of 2024 from its in-person and virtual PhD and MS programs between May 14-18.

“We are so proud of the Class of 2024 across our PhD and MS programs,” said Sarah L.J. Michel, PhD, dean of the School of Pharmacy and professor of pharmaceutical sciences. “Whether you’re working on discoveries in a lab, advocating for legislative and policy changes, or evaluating pharmaceutical services and interventions, we know you are and will continue to be leaders, innovators, and change makers in your respective fields.”

Pharmaceutical Health Services Research (PHSR) Celebrates Six Graduates

The PHSR program, which is part of the Department of Practice, Sciences, and Health Outcomes Research (P-SHOR), recognized three PhD and three MS graduates in the Saratoga Building President’s Boardroom on May 16 before a University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) hooding ceremony for PhD students.

“Throughout their academic journeys, our students have shown dedication, passion, and excellence in their pursuit of advancing health care research, equity, and access,” said Wendy Camelo Castillo, MD, PhD, MSc, assistant professor of P-SHOR and graduate program director of PHSR. “As they move into the next phase of their careers, I look forward to the updates on how they are pushing our field forward.”

Tsung-Ying Lee, PhD ’24, MS, who is from Taiwan, experienced many challenges during his PhD studies, including visiting and living in the United States for the first time and navigating the COVID-19 pandemic. With the support of faculty, staff, and fellow students, Lee persevered and eventually received the full student experience he sought when applying.

“The scientific experience, didactic and research experiences and opportunities here were really beyond my imagination,” Lee said. “My five years have provided me a solid foundation and understanding of science in PHSR and opened the doors for a lot of job opportunities.”

Farideh Sistani, PharmD ’21, MS ’24, is no stranger to the School of Pharmacy. After graduating with her Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degree in 2021, she altered her career path and has been working in a postdoctoral fellowship in health outcomes research while completing her master’s in PHSR.

Sistani, who is from Iran, now works as a data scientist at the US Food and Drug Administration, studying drug utilization using large data sets.

“I’m thankful and grateful for being here for the past few years and learning from different people,” Sistani said. “The faculty are very supportive, and I’m so thankful for that.”

Pharmaceutical Sciences Programs Prepare Researchers for the Present and Future

The PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences (PSC) program recognized 10 doctoral graduates on May 16 before a UMB hooding ceremony for PhD students.

The PhD in PSC program trains students with the knowledge and skills required for discovering novel biological pathways in human health and disease, as well as for the development and delivery of medications for safe and effective therapy.

“Our graduates have contributed so much to research in drug development, pharmacology, biotherapeutics, and more,” said Amanda Oglesby, PhD, associate professor of PSC and graduate program director of the PhD in PSC. “I’m so proud of the many achievements they’ve had at the School of Pharmacy and the many more to come in their careers.”

Brianna Scotland, PhD ’24, received a new award for outstanding dissertation among the graduating class. Scotland will soon begin a postdoctoral position at the Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

“Today is truly exciting because it signifies the end of a very intense but very rewarding journey,” Scotland said. “The university and department have supported me through a lot.”

The MS in PSC program held its convocation ceremony on May 15 to recognize its 22 graduates.

The 16-month, full-time program available in Baltimore and at the Universities at Shady Grove (USG) in Rockville, Md., integrates basic and applied pharmaceutical sciences with hands-on laboratory research, which is attained through the completion of a biopharmaceutical research internship.

“On behalf of the faculty, we have loved getting to know each of our graduates and cheer on their progress and success,” said Steven Fletcher, PhD, associate professor of PSC and graduate program director of the MS in PSC.

Gaurav Dhumal, MS ’24, said he was grateful to the mentors who helped him explore pharmaceutical research. Dhumal will continue his studies at UMSOP in the fall in the PhD in PSC program.

“At graduation, I am filled with clarity and drive rather than nostalgia,” Dhumal said. “My decision to return to the School of Pharmacy for my PhD underscores the outstanding academic environment and research prospects available here.”

Parul Sarma Aryasomayajula, MS ’24, described the MS program as a “truly transformative” experience for the skills and opportunities through the classroom, laboratory, and pharmaceutical internship. After completing the program in December 2023, she joined Abbvie as an associate scientist and returned for graduation festivities this week.

“As an international student, the welcoming culture here nurtured me, and I’m deeply proud to be part of the community,” Sarma Aryasomayajula said. “Returning to campus for graduation is both an emotional and joyful journey. As I graduate from UMSOP, I can’t help but feel a sense of nostalgia and gratitude for the memories and experiences that shaped me.”

Medical Cannabis Science and Therapeutics Graduates Eager to Make Change

At USG, the Graduate Studies in Medical Cannabis Science program held a spirited ceremony on May 14 to honor the 135 MS and six certificate graduates of the Class of 2024.

“Observing our students’ journeys through the program and seeing them today with their families is truly a dream come true for me,” said Leah Sera, PharmD, MA, associate professor of P-SHOR and co-director of the program. “Our graduates join a rapidly growing alumni base that is leading the way in this groundbreaking field.”

Chad Johnson, PhD, assistant professor of PSC and co-director of the program, said the Class of 2024 is full of changemakers, leaders, and innovators.

“With the significant progress, advancements, and developments surrounding medical and adult-use cannabis across the United States, our graduates are entering the industry equipped with a scientific and clinical understanding of the cannabis plant,” Johnson said.

Jassmin Brown, MS ’24, has a business background and said she’s looking into entrepreneurial opportunities in the medical and adult-use cannabis markets. Based in Richmond, Va., Brown described the program as exciting, motivating, and entertaining.

“I drive to Maryland to participate in volunteer activities, make connections with my friends and faculty, and honestly it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made because I’ve not only made lifetime friends but also family,” Brown said.

Regulatory Science Students Balance Work and School

The MS and Graduate Certificate in Regulatory Science program held a convocation ceremony on May 15 to recognize its 25 master’s and seven certificate graduates. Six of the MS students are also graduating from the School of Pharmacy this year with their PharmD.

The regulatory science program is fully online, part-time, and designed for working professionals.

“It is a joy for me to meet our students in person at graduation and celebrate their accomplishments,” said James Polli, PhD, professor of PSC, Ralph F. Shangraw/Noxell Endowed Chair in Industrial Pharmacy and Pharmaceutics, and director of the MS in Regulatory Science program. “The dedication they have shown completing a graduate degree while working full-time shows an impressive level of commitment.”

Clive Ferrer, MS ’24, who lives in Northern New Jersey and works as a quality analyst at Nestlé Health Sciences, described graduation as exciting but also the culmination of a long journey in the program.

“I’m very appreciative to the School, Dr. Polli, and the other instructors for everything I’ve learned,” Ferrer said. “I’m looking forward to what’s next. There’s a great number of opportunities I now have access to thanks to this program.”

Pharmacometrics Program Nurtures Global Reach

The MS in Pharmacometrics, a fully virtual graduate program that attracts students from around the world, held its graduation online on May 18 to recognize its 16 graduating students.

The program provides students with the knowledge and skills needed to plan, perform, and interpret pharmacometric analyses, with the goal of influencing key drug development, regulatory, and therapeutic decisions.

“Congratulations to our graduates, who have worked tirelessly over the past two years on coursework while working in full-time positions,” said Mathangi Gopalakrishnan, PhD, MPharm, assistant professor of P-SHOR and director of the MS in Pharmacometrics program. “They now possess the practical, application-oriented expertise needed in pharmacometrics, and I can’t wait to see the impact they will make.”

Hon Yen Lau, PhD, MS ’24, works in Singapore as a regulatory consultant for Health Sciences Authority, the Singaporean equivalent of the US Food and Drug Administration. Lau called the last two years a wonderful learning journey and attributed much of that to the patience and guidance of the UMSOP faculty.

“The knowledge and skills I have gained from this course are already making a tangible impact in my day-to-day work,” Lau said. “I feel a profound sense of accomplishment in this substantial growth in my professional abilities and newfound confidence in my current role in protecting and advancing public health.”

Payton Woodall, MS ’24, works as a senior scientist at Johnson & Johnson while based remotely in North Carolina. He said spending time with his colleagues at the American Conference on Pharmacometrics (ACoP14) in November was a highlight of his experience.

“I am very excited to graduate from such a great program that I see continuing to invest in itself,” Woodall said. “I know I’ll continue to benefit from the growing alumni network.”

To view more photos and video from this momentous occasion, please visit the School of Pharmacy’s FacebookInstagram, and Flickr pages.

Related News Stories