The 6th annual Barbara Vivash Award for most outstanding PhD thesis was awarded to Joseph Bondy-Denomy for his graduate work in Alan Davidson’s lab entitled “CRISPR meets its match: Bacteriophages inactivate CRISPR function”. Joe discovered a new class of proteins that he named “anti-CRISPRs”, which allows bacteriophages to turn off the bacterial CRISPR/Cas defense system. This opened up a whole new mechanism in how phages interact with bacteria. His groundbreaking discovery cumulated in two first-author publications in Nature. His award ceremony lecture was extremely well attended, and the room was filled with old graduate school friends, all the professors that he interacted with over the years, lab mates, his wife and a proud mentor. Joe clearly had a large impact on many people throughout the Department. Howard Lipshitz had nothing but praise during his introduction, including commenting on Joe’s “natural aptitude for deciphering experiments correctly” and his “independent and strong willed” character. For more insights into Joe’s graduate life experience, his career trajectory and his words of wisdom, please check his out Alumni Spotlight, which is also featured in this issue of the newsletter.