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Cornell University

Contact us:

We are here to help PhDs and postdocs in any discipline make informed choices about their careers and develop skills through flexible, experiential and empowering opportunities for their future success.

Please schedule an appointment, email, call, or just stop in.

Denise DiRienzo
Experiential Program Director
BEST Program


Azucena Ortega (Photo Credit Roger William Theise)Azucena (Zucy) Ortega
Professional Development Program Assistant 
Graduate School, 384 Caldwell Hall


Susi Varvayanis (Photo credit Roger William Theise)

Susi Sturzenegger Varvayanis
Executive Director View Susi (Sturzenegger) Varvayanis's LinkedIn profile
BEST Program
Graduate School, 325 Caldwell Hall

See Susi's calendar for availability beforehand to book an appointment. Suggest a location of your choosing.

To get here:

Interactive campus map

Mailing Address:

Cornell BEST Program

325 Caldwell Hall
121 Reservoir Ave.
Ithaca, NY 14853

Cornell BEST Principals 2013-2019:

Avery August

Avery August PI

Associate Vice Provost and Professor

Department of Microbiology & Immunology, College of Veterinary Medicine
(see "Portraits of Extraordinary Cornellians")

John Parker

John Parker Co-PI

Associate Professor

Department of Microbiology & Immunology, Baker Institute for Animal Health


Chris Schaffer

Chris Schaffer Co-PI

Associate Professor

Meinig School of Biomedical Engineering


BEST Advisory Board:

Made up exclusively of graduate students and postdocs, who each serve a one- to three-year term. A talented and interdisciplinary team of doers, their most important role is in shaping the BEST Program, but they also organize and moderate multiple events each year.

BEST Advisory Board membersCurrent Board members: Najva Akbari, Applied and Engineering Physics; Celine Cammarata, Human Development; Fiona Harnischfeger, Food Science; Jin Liang, Weill Institute for Cellular and Molecular Biology; Gael Nicholas, Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology; Ruisheng (Rick) Wang, Biomedical Engineering.

Former membersLevon Atoyan, Electrical and Computer Engineering (served 2y); Sarah Adeyemo, Soil and Crop Sciences section of the Integrative School of Plant Sciences (served 1y); Elvis Cao, Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering (served 1y); Mohammad Haft-Javaherian, Biomedical Engineering (served 1y); Sabrina Solouki, Immunology and Infectious Disease (served 2y).

(pictured l to r): Kristine Kolkman Champion, Neurobiology (served 3y); Tiffany St. Bernard, Biomedical Engineering (served 3y); R. Alex Coots, Division of Nutritional Sciences (served 3y); Lena Bartell, Applied Engineering & Physics (served 2y); Kenneth Yancey, Biological and Environmental Engineering (served 3y); Wisler Charles, Biological and Biomedical Sciences (served 3y); NOT PICTURED: Aaron Joiner, Biochemistry, Molecular & Cell Biology (served 2y).

Internal partners:

Graduate School
Colleges of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS), Veterinary Medicine (VET), Engineering (ENG), Arts and Sciences (A&S), Human Ecology (HE)
Office of Postdoctoral Studies
Career Services
Office of Inclusion and Student Engagement (OISE)
CU-CIRTL (Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning) & Center for Teaching Excellence
Cornell Center for Materials Research
Engaged Learning Initiatives
Directors of Graduate Studies and Graduate Field Assistants

External partners:

  • we enjoy the support of many external partner organizations around the community, New York State and beyond, many of which are listed as mentors on our website

Participants involved in the BEST Program:


Postdoctoral Scholars & Grad Students...        ...from across all Colleges...                 ...and departments at Cornell  

Reports and Surveys

2018 Cornell BEST Report

2015 Cornell BEST Report

Doctoral Student Experience at Cornell: Baseline Assessment Report 2014

Cornell Graduate Field Metrics (selectivity, enrollment, completion rates, outcomes and job placements by field and department)