An ADAA Conference Love Story!

Sterling and I first met at ADAA Washington DC in April 2018. It was my first time attending an ADAA conference. Sterling was working with Dr. Tanja Jovanovic at the Grady Trauma Project at Emory University in Atlanta, GA, while I was working with Dr. Arash Javanbakht at the STARC Laboratory at Wayne State University in Detroit, MI. Arash had recently recruited Tanja to come to Wayne State and I was looking forward to working with both of them during my PhD. advisors. Knowing that we would all work together, Arash and Tanja introduced the four of us during ADAA. I remember being very excited to meet Tanja, as she is a giant in the field that she greatly admired; I think Sterling remembers meeting me even more vividly!

When Sterling moved to Detroit, I was excited to introduce him and our other Atlanta colleagues to the city and my native home in Michigan. It wasn’t long before Sterling and I were paddle boarding together, attending Red Wings hockey games with our friends and colleagues from Wayne, and practicing yoga together regularly. Our friendship blossomed into a relationship and partnership.

Four years after we met at ADAA in Washington DC, we found our story came full circle when we moved together to DC for my postdoctoral fellowship at Wayne State University. Last December, in Laguna Beach, CA, Sterling proposed to me on the beach surrounded by family with our song, ‘Your Song’ by Elton John, playing in the background. We celebrated our commitment to our scientific family at ADAA last April in Boston, our conference venue to which we have returned together every year since we met. We are very grateful that our passion for neuroscience and mental health has brought us together and allowed us to pursue lines of research that are so important to us.

Each year when we return to ADAA, we remember the community that has elevated us not only in our careers but also in our personal lives. We love this extended ADAA family and will always fondly remember that day we met at the conference.


Find Lana Ruvolo Grasser, PhD at LinkedIn and Twitter

Find Sterling Winters at LinkedIn

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