The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Wake Forest University has been educating and supporting students for almost 60 years.

Russel Reiter, PhD, Class of 1964, was the first graduate of the school and is among the 100 most highly cited scientists in the world. He has published over 1,000 peer-reviewed papers and his research on melatonin has been cited more than 2,200 times in scientific literature. Reiter, a professor in the department of cell systems and anatomy at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, credits his passion and dedication as sources of his success.

Russel Reiter “Papers are rejected, grants are rejected. There's a lot of competition and the important feature of being a scientist is certainly passion, dedication and intuitiveness,” said Reiter. “Sure you're going to get knocked down, but it's what you do after that – how you get up is what's important, and that applies unequivocally to science.” – Russel Reiter, PhD, Class of 1964

“In 1993, we discovered that melatonin was an antioxidant, a very novel idea. We submitted that paper to five highly rated journals and every one of them turned it down,” said Reiter. “After it was published, it was also ignored for 10 years. But now that paper is cited over 2,200 times in the scientific literature. It goes to show that what separates the most successful from the less successful is not mentality, not intelligence. It is passion, perseverance willingness to work against odds.”

Anna Taylor, PhD, Class of 2006, is the current director of research operations and analysis at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke at the National Institutes of Health. Taylor enrolled in the neurobiology and anatomy program in 2000 and trained under Carol Milligan, PhD, professor of neurobiology and anatomy.

Anna Taylor “As students, we really had a lot of freedom and latitude to go down whatever rabbit hole we found interesting until something stuck. That’s been a fundamental key to my success in life because it really taught me how to stand on my own two feet, how to problem solve and how to walk into a situation where you didn’t know what the outcome will be.” – Anna Taylor, PhD, Class of 2006

“As a research advisor, Carol provided a really unique opportunity for her students. She started her lab using a model she had developed herself in graduate school and during her post-doctoral studies,” said Taylor. “Without the support of faculty, I wouldn’t have known where to turn. It wasn’t a very well-known fellowship at the time and it’s what launched my career.”

Both Reiter and Taylor recently delivered remarks at the 2023 hooding ceremony for the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Wake Forest University.