|Graduate administrator aims to recruit, prepare more women scientists
by Cindy Abole
Working with students and helping them find their place in a world of
science and discovery is the goal of researcher and graduate school
administrator Cynthia F. Wright, Ph.D.
Dr. Cynthia Wright
As associate dean for admissions and career development in the College
of Graduate Studies, Wright has to find a balance between meeting the
needs of students as she guides them through their academic careers and
traveling around the nation and globe to recruit some of the best
students into MUSC’s programs.
Wright is one of eight women at MUSC being honored throughout March as
part of the National Women’s History Project. The university solicits
nominations for women to be featured during the month of March who
exemplify leadership qualities and who make significant contributions
in their fields.
At a time when there are so many qualified students seeking to enter
graduate school, many students possess valuable research experience and
other skills that make the selection process challenging. MUSC’s
graduate school is focused on recruiting students for research careers
in medicine, dental medicine and pharmacy.
“We’re looking for the strongest, most qualified candidates that will
be the best fit and achieve success through our programs,” Wright said,
who works along with Perry V. Halushka, M.D., Ph.D., College of
Graduate Studies dean, in all graduate school recruitment.
“She’s absolutely a delight to work with and has enhanced the College
of Graduate Studies’ ability to recruit talented students seeking a
research career,” said Halushka.
The college is about par with the national average for graduate school
recruitment which reports about 60 percent of candidates as female. And
like most programs, it’s the college’s priority to retain the students
they recruit. To achieve this, administration is committed to promoting
mentoring involvement among faculty throughout the institution. Wright
works with Ed Krug, Ph.D., assistant dean of post-doctoral affairs,
College of Graduate Studies, in addressing this issue and guiding
“Women scientists today have so many career choices available to them,”
Wright said. “Post-doctoral scholars can enter select teaching careers
in small, liberal arts schools, conduct research or work in other
alternative careers such as scientific writing. The opportunities are
Additionally, Wright also has focused on expanding diversity within the
college. She’s currently a principal investigator on three diversity
training grants designed to recruit and train students and
post-doctoral scholars, and organizes workshops to teach skills and
promote career development. She’s also the faculty advisor to the
Multicultural Graduate Student Association, which supports students and
promotes campus and community involvement. In 2007, she attended the
MUSC Trustees Leadership Academy studying executive leadership and
helping to hone her skills in academic leadership.
“Dr. Wright is an asset to the college because she is both personable
and approachable,” said DeAnna Baker, a fourth-year Medical Scientist
in Training Program student. “It’s very easy to talk to her about any
aspect of her career, which is very helpful, especially as I’m in the
early stages of career development. She has been a successful
researcher and grant writer, which encourages future women scientists.”
Wright and Krug also collaborate with Claflin University School of
Natural Science and Mathematics program that allows MUSC post-doctoral
students to interact with faculty and students to promote careers in
the biological sciences and research.
From her early years, Wright felt comfortable discovering science
behind the lens of a microscope. The daughter of a career U.S. Air
Force Chief Master Sergeant, Wright was familiar with travel and
change. She earned her undergraduate degree in microbiology from the
University of Florida and doctorate at State University of New York in
Albany in 1984. She went on to complete her post-doctoral work at the
National Institutes of Health and became chief of the molecular
pathology division at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in
Washington, D.C. before arriving at MUSC in 1996. She was tapped to
become assistant dean for admissions in Graduate Studies in 2006.
Wright, who’s married and the mother of a Clemson University sophomore
daughter, is pleased that she has managed to balance her career as a
scientist with family. She considers Rosalie Crouch, Ph.D., and Maria
Buse, M.D., both Distinguished University Professors in the Department
of Medicine, active researchers, and successful mothers, as her role
“Cindy’s very forward thinking and such an asset to the college and
university. She brings a lot of energy and enthusiasm to her position.
She is a great role model for students, especially women, regarding her
experience and career advice,” Halushka said.
Friday, March 26, 2010