Cassandra VanDunk joined St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences in 2023. She received her B.A. in Biology from Albion College before spending two years as a NIH Intramural Research Training Award Fellow. She completed her PhD specializing in Neuroscience within the Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis before moving to Northwestern University for a post-doctoral fellowship.
In 2017 she combined her love of science and mentoring into a position cultivating the next generation of biomedical scientists as Assistant Director for the NIH R25 Northwestern University Post-Baccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP) and Manager of Training and Program Development for the Northwestern University Interdepartmental Neuroscience (NUIN) PhD Program. Through the combination of these roles Cassandra provided academic and career advising, support, and professional development programming to biomedical scientists at the post-baccalaureate, graduate, and postdoctoral levels. In addition, she gained skills in pre-award and post-award grant management and program coordination as the primary administrator of 4 NIH T32 programs.
Finally, Cassandra served a primary role in support of diversity and inclusion efforts preparing individuals historically underrepresented in STEM for competitive admissions to biomedical PhD programs and success throughout their research careers, leading recruitment efforts and evaluating mechanisms to support students throughout their graduate careers.