SOUTHERN REGIONAL EDUCATION BOARD
Doctoral Scholars Program
The Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) works with states to improve public education at every level, from early childhood through doctoral education by:
- helping policymakers make informed decisions by providing independent, accurate data and recommendations;
- helping educators strengthen student learning with professional development, proven practices and curricula; and
- help policymakers, institutions and educators share scarce resources to accomplish more together than they could alone.
SREB is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization headquartered in Atlanta serving 16 states; Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia. Their work is funded by member appropriations, as well as by contracts and grants from foundations and from local, state and federal agencies. The nation’s first regional interstate compact for education, SREB was created in 1948 by Southern governors and legislators who recognized the link between education and economic vitality. The Doctoral Scholars Program provides multiple layers of support to students — not only in financial assistance and research funding, but also career counseling, job postings and a scholar directory for networking and recruiting. Mentoring and advocacy for scholars is crucial, and support continues into early careers as graduates become faculty members.
Deepshila Gautam, a doctoral student in the Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences is enrolled in the SREB Doctoral Scholars Program and a current scholar at East Tennessee State University (ETSU). Deepshila completed her master’s program in Biology at ETSU. During this period, Deepshila received a highly competitive Sigma Xi Grants-in-Aid Research Award, ETSU Graduate School Research Award, and Slemp Memorial Research Award, Department of Biological Sciences, ETSU under the advisership of Dr. Aruna Kilaru, Department of Biological Sciences. Her research presentation at the Plant Biology 2021 Worldwide Summit was supported by the American Society of Plant Biologists Travel Award and was also a winner at the ETSU Appalachian Student Research Forum. She pursued her Ph.D. degree in Biomedical Sciences in fall 2021, driven by her immense interest in the research.
Her doctoral work is focused on the development of translational biomarkers to enable drug development for schizophrenia and other neuropsychiatric illnesses. It involves the development and validation of electroencephalogram (EEG)-based neural oscillations as biomarkers for schizophrenia to facilitate drug development and improve clinical trial outcomes. Such biomarkers are critical for novel drug evaluation, effective dose-selection, proof-of-concept studies, as well as patient selection in clinical trials. Deepshila is not only skilled in conducting research experiments and complex data analysis but also in research presentations and training other students in the lab. During her PhD program under the supervision of Dr. Siva Digavalli, she has presented her work at Society of Neuroscience conference and at Appalachian Student Research Forum. She has also trained several PharmD and undergraduate students in the lab to perform research and data analysis. She has earned a co-authorship on a manuscript that was recently published in Oxford University Press’s journal, the Schizophrenia Bulletin, one of the highly cited journals in the field with a high impact factor. Deepshila is also a joint first author on a second paper and a co-author in a third paper that has been submitted for peer review with the journal Neuropharmacology, another prestigious journal in the field. She built her confidence from these well-rounded academic experiences and is inspired to realize her goal to become a successful researcher in neuroscience and support and guide young researchers.
Her long-term goal is to contribute to the drug development research, with a particular focus on schizophrenia and other mental disorders. Deepshila is from Nepal, a developing country with limited opportunities for research and graduate education. Thus, she is also motivated to provide research opportunities and exposure to women in developing countries and students from diverse ethnicity, and economic backgrounds.