February 2017 Contents


Supporting the Next Generation of AAPS Leaders

AAPS works to support and benefit from its student members.

By Binodh S. DeSilva, Ph.D. 

Binodh_DeSilvaStudent members of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS) are not only the future of the association, but they are already contributing to AAPS in many ways. We have about 25 percent student members.

AAPS now has more than 102 student chapters in 20 countries. To see the variety of activities these students coordinate, see the 2016 Student Chapter of the Year (SCOTY) awards, as well as the AAPS Newsmagazine’s regular online feature, Student Chapter Focus. In addition to organizing symposia such as PharmSci@Asia, Pharmaceutics Graduate Student Research Meeting, and Graduate Research Association of Students in Pharmacy conference, student chapters sponsor career days, guest speakers, and visits to pharmaceutical companies and the Food and Drug Administration; organize community service events; and reach out to K–12 students.

Mandip S. Sachdeva, Ph.D., faculty advisor for the AAPS student chapter at Florida F&M (FAMU), says, “We have a very vibrant and ambitious group of students, who take pride in being AAPS members and want to make a visible impact in their profession and also in the community.” The FAMU student chapter has grown from 12 students 15 years ago to more than 45 students today. “My experience working with various groups of students has been that most students need a pride factor in their profession and a platform to show it, and AAPS chapters provide that,” he says. “If we build the right environment, the motivation to excel will come, and the FAMU chapter has shown that.”

Hazem E. Hassan, Ph.D., R.Ph., faculty advisor for the AAPS student chapter at the 2016 SCOTY award-winning University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB), is equally enthusiastic. “Being a faculty advisor of the AAPS UMB student chapter is an incredible honor and an exciting opportunity to work with passionate and motivated students who truly believe in the mission of the AAPS organization,” he says. “I was thrilled to see the impact that AAPS had on the students. Not only does it give them the opportunity to know up-to-date technologies and advances in different disciplines in pharmaceutical sciences, but it also allows them to interact and lear n from distinguished scientists from academia, industry, and regulatory agencies. What an excellent way to prepare future pharmaceutical scientists!”

17 Feb Student Graph 


Xiaoling Li, Ph.D., faculty adviser for the AAPS student chapter at the University of the Pacific, says, “The chapter has been playing a crucial role in promoting science, especially pharmaceutical sciences on campus and globally. This is a very energetic and enthusiastic group working closely with AAPS. They have raised awareness of AAPS not only within our Pacific community but also across the border by organizing international research symposiums.”

To foster this mutually beneficial relationship, AAPS actively plans activities for its student members. Each AAPS section has activities for students, including mentoring programs, student committees, co-moderator programs, ambassador programs, and education and career resources. Many AAPS focus groups have student representatives, too. In addition to the AAPS section mentoring programs, every AAPS annual meeting holds the popular mentoring breakfast. Through these activities, AAPS student members can expand their network and receive guidance and support throughout the year.

A valuable service AAPS provides for student members is its career development programs. The AAPS online Career Center has job postings in industry, academia, and government. It also provides résumé templates and samples to help students prepare and upload a professional résumé. In addition, many career development sessions at the AAPS Annual Meeting and Exposition are geared especially for students. In 2016, these included:

  • Marketing Yourself to Industry after Achieving Your Advanced Degree
  • Women in Pharmaceutical Sciences,
  • Publishing Do’s and Dont’s
  • Becoming an Effective Science Communicator, and 
  • Contract Research Organizations: A Go-To Destination for Entrepreneurial Aspirants? 

These sessions were packed!

A popular place at the annual meeting is the Career Fair, which hosts employers looking for qualified candidates. Students can meet face-to-face with hiring managers and schedule interviews. In addition, seasoned AAPS members volunteer to review students’ résumés and pass along career advice.

A valuable benefit of participating in an AAPS student chapter is the opportunity to develop leadership skills. By chairing a chapter or helping plan and run one of the many student-chapter–initiated activities, students hone skills that will be of service to them for a lifetime. Serving on AAPS focus groups or sections offers opportunities to help in program planning, elearning, publishing, communications, blogging, or finance. There is a huge advantage to the students; through these interactions, they can meet prominent scientists in their fields from academia, industry, and government.

“The students have contributed significantly to the profession of AAPS,” Sachdeva says, “by not only interacting with each other and networking but also by being active in middle and high schools where they have organized science fairs so that they can be alerted about the significance of the pharmaceutical profession and the careers which lie ahead of them. We have organized several science fairs at FAMU, and I have seen the energy and excitement in not only the students from various schools but also in the AAPS chapter members, who feel so proud in hosting such an event.”

Sachdeva adds, “Personally for me, it has been a learning and very exciting experience working with different groups of students and challenging and motivating them to keep doing exciting things for the chapter, so that they feel proud of their profession. One significant thing, I noted that once they get their direction, there is no need to push them anymore. They really want to make a difference for their chapter since this is the connection they feel with their profession.”

AAPS also calls on students to co-moderate meeting sessions. I am pleased to report that the 2016 AAPS Annual Meeting and Exposition had 27 student co-moderators. Venecia Wilson of Purdue University was a co-moderator at the 2016 AAPS Annual Meeting and Exposition session, FDA on Inactive Ingredients Database and a Sneak Peek at Possible New Excipient Qualification. Wilson learned about the opportunity during the Excipients focus group monthly conference call; she is the group’s student representative. “Co-moderating this session gave me the opportunity to network with leaders within the excipient field,” she says. “I also learned some of the common challenges that companies face with suppliers and Food and Drug Administration approval as it relates to excipients. I plan on using this knowledge and communicating these issues with my principal investigator (Lynne S. Taylor, Ph.D.) and our collaborators, since a component of my thesis project is developing novel excipients for amorphous solid dispersion formulation.”

 Wilson is also chair of Purdue University’s AAPS student chapter. This year, she reports, “the chapter has hosted many amazing programs (roundtable discussions with individuals from Eli Lilly and Merck, a dinner etiquette workshop, and a Managing a Team to Success seminar just to name a few). The Purdue AAPS student chapter has been an avenue for me to build comradery with my colleagues, as well as foster my growth as a leader within the pharmaceutical field. I encourage all students, whether undergraduate, professional, or graduate, to get connected with their local AAPS student chapter!”

AAPS stands to benefit from all these activities, too, for students are the future of AAPS. From my experience with our AAPS students, I know our association is in good hands.