Coming from a mid-sized city school in New York City I was not exposed to, or accustomed to, the many amenities that Princeton University and the Molecular Biology department offered. In my undergraduate institute I worked in the only Drosophila melanogaster genetics lab on campus leaving my lab mates and myself isolated with our own ideas, and only each other to bounce them off of. In my short time at Princeton I have learned that the best ideas are those thought of and worked on as a collective group and you are never alone. Whether it is a lab down the hall that may be able to help you set up a more efficient way to do an experiment, walking over to a different building and getting advice from a lab in a completely different department, or getting the best researchers of the time from around the world to come and talk at department lectures, Princeton is able to coalesce greatness in a small space. Most importantly, I had never realized how truly interdisciplinary scientists were as many labs in our department solve basic science questions and translate those questions into companies producing small molecules and eventually medications.
Moving away from academics the students in the graduate program are truly awesome. They have a wide range of interests, hobbies, and talents. We are lucky to be close enough to major cities (New York City, Washington D.C., and Philadelphia), and to lots of out door activities that make your weekends and spare time much more eventful. We have a really great outreach program that allows you to interact with the community and excite those not directly involved with science. Thankfully, students also know how to let loose and really enjoy themselves, with most of us hanging out in one form of the other after our lab work is done. Although the transition to graduate school is difficult, and moving to a new place is scary, Princeton University and the small community you surround yourself with makes these changes easy, and we have all gone through it, and preserved through it. I look forward to spending the next six years with the people around me.
— Rebecca S. Moore
The Molecular Biology Department at Princeton is a fun but productive place. Admittedly, I assumed these qualities to be mutually exclusive before coming here, but the department exists at a happy median in many regards. For example, it is large enough to have a breadth of research, but cozy enough that almost everyone knows and addresses each other by first name.
Coming to Princeton from the post-doc heavy National Institutes Health, I was struck by the value placed on graduate students. Graduate students make up the bulk of the research force on campus and thus have access to high priority projects and produce high impact work. Additionally, graduate students are in a unique position to assist in Princeton’s dedicated education of undergraduates, while receiving a world-class training for themselves.
Princeton, and our department in particular, is a truly wonderful community of scholarship and fun. We are a fraternal group of graduate students who have their pick of interesting projects. We know how to let loose and when to buckle down; and there’s an abundance of resources for both. The result is an impressive output of research from a small cluster of buildings situated in the middle of NJ, in the middle of the east coast research belt, at the forefront of knowledge.
— Matthew King
As an undergrad, I worked with snakes; my research was not focused on molecular biology. While I gained experience with the techniques used in molecular biology during my time as a lab coordinator between undergrad and grad school, I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to study during my graduate school career. That is one of the biggest reasons Princeton was such a great fit for me. The Molecular Biology department represents a wide variety of interests and it is easy to explore them. During lab rotations you have the chance to investigate things that you may never have known were of interest to you. The department is ideally diverse, but also small enough that it isn’t overwhelming. Because of the small size of the department, too, it is easy to feel at home and become an active participant in many things outside of your lab.
While interviewing for other programs there was another thing that struck me about Princeton, and that was how much value was placed on educating its students. The long-standing joke is that graduate students are simply a source of cheap labor, but that is absolutely not the case at Princeton. It was clear even from my interview that the faculty put emphasis on their students learning how to be great scientists first and foremost. At Princeton you are constantly surrounded by people who want to learn and teach, people who are genuinely interested in science and are more than happy to help you along the way.
The academic experience at Princeton is wonderful, but one of the things that I have enjoyed the most is the people I have interacted with. The Molecular Biology department is full of fun and interesting people and it is very easy to find your place. Princeton is a small town, but there are plenty of things to do. We are close to Philly, NY and DC so it is easy to get away to a larger city when you’d like. All in all Princeton is a fantastic place to learn, live, and become a scientist.
— Allison Hall