In January, BCMB hired a new academic program manager. Arhonda Gogos started in the position several weeks ago, so BCMB News caught up with her to see how she was settling in, and to learn a little more about how she came to be at Hopkins.
Gogos hails from Greece, completing her undergraduate work in Physics at the University of Athens. She’s no stranger to Hopkins, though, having done her PhD in our very own Biophysics department. She says that as an undergraduate, she took an elective course in biophysics “and that was it!” She fell in love with the subject and decided to pursue it for her graduate degree. Her thesis work was in the laboratory of Neil Clarke, studying DNA glycosylases. Apparently, the Biophysics department has changed quite a bit since her time as a graduate student, as Dan Leahy is the only remaining member of her thesis committee that is still with the department, although Mario Amzel and Cynthia Wolberger overlapped with Gogos’ time as well.
After finishing her PhD, Gogos moved on to a postdoctoral fellowship in the lab of Larry Shapiro at Mt. Sinai in New York. It was there that she expanded on her interest in teaching. Gogos had mentored students and had tutored for the Association for Dyslexic Adults and Youth during her PhD at Hopkins, but she had few opportunities to be a lecturer or teaching assistant for a course. She enjoyed becoming more involved with teaching, and still has a passion for education. Shortly after the Shapiro lab moved from Mt. Sinai to Columbia University, Gogos left research and took at position working for AAAS. She worked on an education project that targeted high-school science curriculum, setting goals and standards for course material.
While at AAAS, she received an offer to set up a structural biology lab at a small biotech company with a focus on pharmokinetic enhancers. She accepted, and ran the lab for two years before the economic climate changed and the company ceased all research operations. Through this time, she had continued to work with the education department at AAAS as a consultant, so she used this experience to start her own independent science education consulting firm. She contracted with University of Maryland University College, evaluating their Masters in Biotechnology program. She enjoyed this work because of the flexibility (she could work from home and spend time with her family), and the interactions with the UMUC faculty. She helped them make an effective online classroom atmosphere for their distance-learning students.
She left her consulting days behind when she was given the opportunity to work with BCMB. She explains that she appreciated all of the different career opportunities that she had. “I found everything learned from these experiences to be valuable, and interesting. I learned it’s important to be flexible – you don’t know what life will bring.” Students can benefit from the advice Gogos has to give. “The skills you learn in graduate school serve you well no matter what you end up doing,” she says. She cites that learning to work in teams, but also to work independently were major tools she used to be successful in her many different job opportunities.
Gogos is excited and honored to be working with BCMB. Students and faculty are welcome to visit her office in the 1830 Building any time. “If you need help with anything, just come by and ask. My door is open any time to talk about anything you need.” Questions about matriculation, health insurance, thesis committees, courses, electives, tutors, graduation, rotations, grades, and more can be answered by Gogos. She is especially ready to help students with the process of thesis committee meetings, because she feels this is one of the most important opportunities for students to take advantage of during their training. “You can gain a tremendous amount from meetings,” she says.
Please stop by and introduce yourself to Arhonda Gogos, and help welcome her to BCMB!