Grad Student Well-Being at UConn

Have you ever felt over-stressed and under-rested in graduate school?

stress management

Due to the many academic and career stressors in graduate school, many graduate students find it difficult (and nearly impossible) to maintain a sense of mental and emotional well-being. Additionally, sleep, exercise and healthy eating are often compromised to fulfill other requirements of advisors, GA’s, and other academic work. Over time, we find that our vitality is fading, our backs are hurting from sitting all day, our thoughts are out of control and we feel exhausted. We realize that something about that system is not working for us.

Maintaining emotional, physical, AND spiritual well-being is imperative in order to achieve the highest potential in research and life. People who have a greater sense of well-being are more productive, creative, and able to achieve their long term goals.

Therefore  the Graduate Initiative Fellows have developed a 5 week workshop series on the “5 Habits of Healthy and Successful Graduate Students”

Habits of Healthy Grad Students Curriculum:

          ~ Finding Your Purpose

          ~ Relax the mind with mindfulness

          ~ Self Care Fair

          ~ Eating to Sustain the Brain

          ~ Exercising

You are welcome to take part in one OR ALL of the the workshops! Please RSVP for the topics you are interested in below.  Space is limited, so RSVP to reserve your spot today!

See more specific descriptions below.

This is the beginning of a longer term effort to provide wellness support for grad students. And to that end- If you haven't yet taken the UConn Grad Well-being assessment, please (click here) and take the 15 minutes to help us reveal the truth about health and wellbeing among graduate students at UConn!

For more information you can contact melissa depaolo at Or call 203-314-2588.

Week 1

Reconnecting You to Your "WHY" - Finding Your Purpose

Do you ever find yourself wondering “Why am I here?” “Why am I even in this graduate program?” or “Is it worth it anymore?” YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Often in graduate school, the higher purpose that brought us here can get buried underneath the stresses of to-do lists and tasks. How often do we realize we've worked ourselves to the bone meeting back-to-back deadlines, while forgetting the things that give us drive, energy and enthusiasm?

Research suggests that having a sense of purpose influences one's health and wellness. It has been shown to help people overcome struggles with addiction, depression and anxiety. And more recent findings show that having a purpose in life may even protect against Alzheimer’s disease and contribute to a longer life. For graduate students, a sense of purpose can mean the difference between losing our motivation along the way and successfully completing our degree.

The goal of this workshop is to help you reconnect to your higher purpose. We'll help you articulate this purpose in a mission statement that guides your work toward your graduate degree within the context of your life as a whole.

Date: Friday, February 17th

Times: 1:00 - 2:30 pm

Location: Alumni Center, Board Room

RSVP: This Session is Full

Additional Info: Contact for more information

Week 2

Renewing the Mind with Mindfulness Meditation

Have you ever felt anxious or stuck in a pattern of negative thinking? As grad students we have many responsibilities to manage. Often we reach our stress threshold when we can’t manage any more social, emotional, or academic pressure. Join this mindfulness workshop for a FREE guided meditation. You will walk away with a sense of tranquility, feeling of connection to your fellow peers and practical tools and resources you can incorporate into a daily mindfulness practice.

Date: Thursday March 2nd

Times: 7:00-8:30pm

Location: Student Union (Room TBA)


Additional Info: Contact for more information

Week 3

Self Care

As students, teachers, advisees, employees, mentors, parents, and siblings, we tend to give out to others with little to give to ourselves at the end of the day. Forgetting our own self care can leave us burnt out ! In this workshop we will practice multiple modalities to practice self care and make a self care plan to finish the semester with vitality and self love. Remember, one of the best gifts you can give to others is YOU showing up in your full true and healthy self.

Date: Week of March 6th 

Times: TBA

Location: TBA

RSVP: Upcoming

Additional Info: Contact for more information

Week 4

Eating for Sustainability

The food we eat directly effects our moods, our energy levels, and our brain capacity! We need to be putting LIFE into our body so our brains and bodies have the right fuel to create, produce and THRIVE in our graduate schooling!

Attend our 4th workshop to practice ways to EAT FOR ENERGY! (Hint: it is not always about WHAT you eat).

Healthy Beverages and Refreshments and Socializing!

Date: Week of March 20th

Times: TBA

Location: TBA

RSVP: Upcoming

Additional Info: Contact for more information

Week 5

Exercise for Energy

Do you ever find yourself feeling fatigued, lonely, or like you can’t get yourself going?? YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Come see how movement can bring LIFE back into your body mind and spirit during this special Energizing for Exercise class for grad students. Exercise for Energy class is a fun, fast paced body weight workout to energizing music that you can do ANYWHERE at ANY TIME! join us and be AMAZED at how sweat, music and socializing can take your energy to the next level and help you be a beacon of positivity!!

(Students with any level of fitness can participate in this workout, no equipment needed. Please contact Melissa DePaolo with any physical concerns)

Date: Week of March 27th

Times: TBA

Location: TBA

RSVP: Upcoming

Additional Info: Contact for more information

The Graduate School-Communications Workshop Spring 2017

Negotiations and Professional Communication Skills

 Workshop Series for Graduate Students and Post-Doctoral Scholars:

 Sponsored by The Graduate School and The Ombuds Office.

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where conflict arose?  Have you ever had an experience of miscommunication with someone?  Does your current success depend on other people? A faculty member? A colleague? An advisor?


Most graduate students would answer yes to these questions.  Communication surrounding conflict and negotiating outcomes is challenging and can lead to strained relationships, negativity, and missing target objectives.


Graduate students often navigate difficult waters throughout their time here at UConn as they prepare for their post-graduate work.  If you’re looking to strengthen your negotiation, listening, and conflict/opposition management skills and grow in other areas, please join us for a series of workshops focusing on negotiation and professional communication skills.


As a result of attending this workshop series, participants will:

  • Better understand their personal conflict and communication style including ways to apply this knowledge to their work
  • Understand Negotiation theory and strengthen negotiation skills helping to navigate challenging situations to reach positive outcomes
  • Understand the importance of listening, reframing, and paraphrasing in effective communication and grow these skills through practice opportunities
  • Develop an awareness of, and strategy for, the role emotion plays when negotiating your interests



Workshop Information and Session Descriptions:

Here are five important things you need to know about the workshop series:

  1. Please register as soon as possible as we have limited seats.
  2. Register Here

  3. ATTENTION: This workshop series is currently full. If you are interested in being placed on a waitlist, please Click Here. The waitlist will be used if current registrants decide not to participate and for notification of future programming of this kind.
  4. Each person who registers online and attends the workshop will receive a free book by Robert Fischer and William Ury, “Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In (3rd edition).”
  5. We encourage you to attend all five sessions to get the most out of the workshop series, however we understand that may not be possible, so please register for the sessions you can attend (Note: Session Three is only open to participants who attended Session Two)
  6. This workshop series is open to Graduate Students and Post-Doctoral Scholars from any University of Connecticut campus (Note: workshop location is on the Storrs campus).
  7. Workshop Location: Storrs Hall, Carolyn Ladd Widmer Wing 01 (WW01)- (Map location)

Session One

Overview of Professional Workplace Setting: How do Organizations and Individuals Respond to Challenging Situations?

Friday, January 27, 2017- 1:30pm-3:00pm

Storrs Hall, Room WW01

Have you ever wondered why things are the way they are in a given situation? In groups, the work place, or even in one-on-one relationships, navigating a challenging situation can be a particular challenge for most! Join us for an opposition management session addressing the typical ways organizations and individuals respond during challenging situations.

Session Two


Friday, February 10, 2017- 1:30pm-3:00pm

Storrs Hall, Room WW01

Negotiations are far more than the conversation one has about their salary. We are negotiating spaces, relationships, and opportunities every day whether or not we concretely recognize it. Please join us for a negotiations workshop and learn more about the art of negotiation. (Note: The two sessions on negotiation are designed as a two part series, in order to attend the follow up in Session Three, you need to have attended this session, Session Two)

Session Three

Negotiations Part II (follow up to Session Two)

Friday, February 24, 2017- 1:30pm-3:00pm

Storrs Hall, Room WW01

The best way to get better at any skill is to practice, right? This session on strengthening negotiation skills is a follow up to Session Two-Negotiations, and only open to those who attended the Session Two workshop. Participants will have the opportunity to further engage their negotiation skills and learn more about optimizing outcomes. (Note: Session Two: Negotiations is a prerequisite for this session)

Session Four

Communicating Through Difficult Situations in Professional Life- Listening, Reframing, Narrative and Metaphor

Friday, March 10, 2017- 1:30pm-3:00pm

Storrs Hall, Room WW01

Looking to add to your tool kit when responding to difficult situations? Here is your chance! Listening, Reframing, Narrative and Metaphor are core components to effective communication in the various dimensions of our lives. Please join us to learn more about your communication style and the impact these core components can have in difficult situations.

Session Five

Navigating Power Dynamics in Professional Work Settings

Friday, March 24, 2017- 1:30pm-3:00pm

Storrs Hall, Room WW01

If all of our relationships were easily defined wouldn’t that make for a better day? The navigation of power dynamics in the work setting is a practical skill of every successful professional. Please join us for a workshop exploring the navigation of power dynamics in professional works settings. The keys are the ability to check your emotions and hold people accountable while managing power relationships.

Session Six

This date is reserved if we need to make up a session due to weather

Friday, April 7, 2017- 1:30pm-3:00pm

Storrs Hall, Room WW01

Postdoc Appreciation Week

Ask a Postdoc

Do you have a postdoctoral position lined up for after you graduate? Or are you wondering if doing a postdoc would be worthwhile for your career? In this panel, current postdocs will share their experiences on applying for postdocs, what to look for in a mentor, and preparing for going on the job market afterwards.


Time: noon to 1pm (feel free to bring your lunch)

Location: HBL Class of 1947

Audience: Graduate Students and Postdocs


Trivia Night (Social Event)
Join fellow postdocs for Trivia night at Pub 32.
Date: 9/21/16
Location: Pub 32 ( 847 Stafford Rd, Storrs, CT 06268)
Audience: Postdocs

National Postdoc Appreciation Week (NPAW) 2nd Annual Postdoc Datablitz Competition at UConn
The Graduate School at UConn and the UConn Postdoc Association proudly sponsors the 2nd Annual Postdoc Datablitz Competition and luncheon. The datablitz competition is an opportunity for postdocs across campus to share their research in “elevator pitch” style, giving five minute research talks. Featured in this year’s event is a special seminar delivered by the Dean of the Graduate School and an academic job search faculty panel during lunch. Please see below for agenda! Come support UConn postdocs! Be engaged! Get involved! Build a community!

Date: 9/23/16
Location: Alumni Center (2384 Alumni Dr, Storrs, CT 06269)
Audience: All are invited to attend

9:30-10:00am- Registration and Refreshments

10:00am-General Welcoming Remarks and Introduction of speaker

10:05-10:25-“Getting more than 20 strangers to care about your research” Kent E. Holsinger, Ph.D., Vice Provost for Graduate Education and Dean of the Graduate School

10:25-10:30-Q&A with the Dean

10:30-11:45- Datablitz presentations (7 presentations at 5 minutes each with 2 minutes for questions after each presenter)


Zwitterionic Propargyl Linked Antifolates for Gram Negative Pathogens

Narendran G-Dayanandan*, Michael N. Lombardo*, Christine C. Orozco†, Mark Niosi†,Steven Kowalewski†, Sarah Lazzaro†, Loretta M.Cox†, Mark A. Moen†, R. Scott Obach†, Amy C. Anderson*, Dennis L. Wright*.

* Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut 06269, USA.

† Department of Pharmacokinetics, Dynamics and Metabolism, Pfizer Global Research & Development, Groton, Connecticut 06340, USA



Heterogeneity of astrocyte and NG2 cell insertion at the node of Ranvier

Peter Jukkola*, David R. Serwanski*, and Akiko Nishiyama*,

*Department of Physiology and Neurobiology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut, 06269



EphA4 controls neuroblast and astrocyte organization in the subventricular zone and rostral migratory stream

Todd K.L.(1), Baker K.L.(1), Eastman M.B.(1), Kolling F.W.(2), Nelson C.E.(2), Conover J.C.(1)

(1)Department of Physiology and Neurobiology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06269(2)Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06269



Health Related Quality of Life in Ethnic Minorities with Diabetes

Kelley Newlin Lew, DNSc, APRN, CDE (School of Nursing, InCHIP); Julie Wagner, PhD (inCHIP), Associate Professor, Behavioral Sciences and Community Health, School of Dental Medicine And Psychiatry, School of Medicine; Omar Braizat, MD (InCHIP)



A Comparative Analysis of Weight Stigma in SES Matched Men and Women

Mary S Himmelstein (Post-Doctoral Fellow, UConn Rudd Center,

Rebecca M. Puhl (Deputy Director, UConn Rudd Center & Professor in the UConn department of Human Development and Family Studies)



Food Swamps? The Effect of Imbalanced Food Environments on Obesity

Kristen Cooksey Stowers, PhD

InChip Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity



U.S. Partisan Media Coverage of Climate Change, 2011-2014: Understanding Frames and Cultural Appeals Todd P. Newman, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

11:45am-Transitition to lunch

Noon-12:45- Academic Job Search Faculty Panel


Jessica Rouge, Assistant Professor/ Department of Chemistry

Melanie Newport-Assistant Professor/ Department of History

Daniel Shwartz-Assistant Professor/ Director of the Biotechnology Bioservices Center

Jie He-Assistant Professor/ Department of Chemistry

12:45-1:00pm-Closing Remarks/ Announcement of Winners  (Victoria Blodgett, Assistant Dean of Graduate Student and Postdoctoral Affairs)
Feel free to attend some or all of the program.