University President Bruce Harreld listens during a joint session of the UISG and GPSG on Sept. 19, 2017. Harreld spoke about the need for cooperation between student leaders and administrators, and challenges faced by the university following budget cuts by state legislature. (Nick Rohlman/The Daily Iowan)

Guest Opinion: This week, thank a graduate student


It is crucial to recognize what graduate students contribute to progress on campus and beyond.

What do early maps of the human genome, the identification of the first pulsars, and the discovery of a lost novel by Walt Whitman have in common? A hint: The individuals who made these discoveries are hard to track down. They spend most of their time in laboratories, libraries, archives, or even remote field sites. Give up? These breakthroughs were all made by graduate students.

As the dean of the Graduate College and interim vice president for Research at the University of Iowa, I have a unique vantage point to watch the contributions graduate students make to discovery and innovation. Young UI researchers are working on cancer vaccines, preserving Iowa history, using data visualization to reveal the secrets of ancient texts, and much more. Without a doubt, graduate students’ curiosity, determination, and hard work is integrated into every step of our research endeavor.

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It is crucial that we recognize and value the everyday role graduate students play in research, teaching, outreach, and service at the UI and other institutions across the country. Graduate-student life is far from easy — adding original contributions to your field is always intimidating, far more so when you’re tackling the challenge for the first time — but our students persevere in the pursuit of knowledge. It’s for this reason that we celebrate graduate students and, in particular, recognize them during National Graduate & Professional Student Appreciation Week from April 2-6.

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This year, the Graduate College is a proud cosponsor of Iowa’s Graduate & Professional Student Appreciation Week. The collaboration among the Graduate Student Senate, Graduate & Professional Student Government, the Graduate College, and others, brings a weeklong celebration of graduate students. The week includes wellness and financial management offerings, as well as workshops on grant writing, crafting professional narratives, and diversity in the workplace. There will be some pizza, coffee, and hopefully a lot of kind words passed on to our graduate-student population. At the end of the week, students will gather for an evening out with friends and colleagues.

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Be sure to thank the graduate students in your life this week, whether they are colleagues, instructors, friends, or family. Without them, our progress would be slowed and the future of discovery far less bright.

— John C. Keller

Professor, College of   

Dentistry Interim

Vice President for Research & Economic Development

Associate Provost for Graduate and Professional Education

Dean, the Graduate College



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