Renee Eastwood has been the Krieger School’s director of academic and student affairs for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows since the position was created in 2014. She began her Johns Hopkins career in 2003 in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, served as director of admissions at the Bloomberg School of Public Health, and oversaw the graduate programs in the Health Sciences schools at West Virginia University before returning to Hopkins.
What role do you serve for graduate students?
I provide academic and student life support. It’s my job to know all of the university, divisional, and student services policies and resources available. I help graduate students and postdocs navigate academic and personal life challenges. I also serve as an advisor to several graduate student groups and work with campus partners to create opportunities for meaningful engagement.
How are the needs of graduate students different from those of undergraduates?
Often graduate students are slightly older and in different phases of their lives. Many have family obligations and are balancing that with the rigor of a PhD or master’s program. Graduate studies can also be isolating, as students can get immersed in their research. It can be a high-pressure environment and maintaining a healthy work/life balance, staying connected to peers, and knowing when to ask for help are all incredibly important.
What are the Dean’s Teaching Fellowships?
They are opportunities for graduate students to propose a course and teach it on their own. It’s a wonderful opportunity because the students propose remarkable courses that might not otherwise have been considered. The interdisciplinary approach is something we see a lot with the fellowships, and we support that wholly.
What is your role with the Krieger School’s 150 to 200 postdocs?
It’s similar to my role with graduate students in that I help postdocs understand how everything works, how all the pieces fit together, and if they’re having any troublesome times or confusion, then I’m certainly there to step in to help them.
What else can you tell us about your role?
That I’m here and happy to talk with graduate students and postdocs. Sometimes it can be really difficult to sort things out on their own and that’s OK; we’re here to talk them through these moments.