Student Perspectives

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Garner S. Soltes

Coming from a small liberal arts institution with limited research capacity, I was worried that I'd be overwhelmed at Princeton. At first I wasn't sure what I wanted to study or where I wanted to conduct research. Over the course of the next six months, however, the Molecular Biology Department provided me with opportunities to speak with every faculty over lunch, participate in engaging and enriching courses, and attend phenomenal lectures. Through these opportunities and the type of informal conversation that is germane to a department like Mol Bio, I was easily able to make an informed, impassioned decision about my thesis work, and now I'm in love with what I do. The Molecular Biology Department and Princeton as a whole is full of people who are incredibly passionate about teaching and learning. Whether you're having an extensive discussion about your research with colleagues, or simply chatting with someone at one of the great spots in town, you can always continue to learn from others. The University provides an abundance of opportunities for its students such that on an average day, you may find yourself attending a lecture from a European President at lunch, rock climbing in the afternoon, and attending an award-winning show in the evening. Princeton as a town and a university is really a source of opportunities that is ripe for the picking. Princeton has become a wonderful home for me, and I hope that you allow it to do the same for you! Please feel free to contact me if there's anything more you'd like to know! —Garner Soltes

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Rick Baker

Since the moment I arrived on campus I have been part of a large, extended family – the Molecular Biology Department.  The department is engaging, collaborative and truly dedicated to the success of every member. Academically, I couldn’t be happier with my first year as a graduate student.  In a given day I can have class taught by a leader in bacterial genetics, do research in a cutting-edge biophysics lab, and attend a guest lecture from a world-renowned scientist.  In both the classroom and laboratory I am challenged to go further and reach higher, but every person in the department makes sure that I have the support needed to succeed. The Graduate School is also superb and services for the general graduate population are second to none. Graduate student housing is safe, affordable, and extremely close to campus.  There are many events for graduate students, including socials and parties at the graduate bar and even trips to New York City to attend Broadway shows.  Princeton is located an hour from both Philadelphia and New York City, as well as only a short drive from the Jersey shore or the Pocono Mountains.  The town boasts a wide array of restaurants and other shops to keep students busy, not to mention the many homemade ice cream parlors, a Princeton favorite.  Princeton has been an excellent choice for me and I hope all prospective students consider the department for his or her graduate studies.  If you have any question, please contact me. —Rick Baker

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Kelly LaRue

Before embarking on my whirlwind interview schedule, my undergraduate research advisor gave me one last piece of advice.  She told me that instead of making this decision with my head, it was time to start listening to my heart. She was sure that I would fall in love with one program; I was skeptical.  The interdisciplinary programs that I interviewed for were very similar.  They all touted the breadth and depth of their research and the collaborative environment of the university.  Though all of the institutions were beautiful, well-funded and performing valuable research, the weekends seemed to blend together, no program was “the one.” Then it was time to interview with the Molecular Biology Department at Princeton University.  The moment I arrived on the gorgeous campus, I already knew that it would be a step above the rest.  It is located in a beautiful and safe area in New Jersey, just an hour away from cities, beaches and mountains.  The labs are doing top-notch research on a wide variety of topics.  They offer a lucrative stipend along with affordable and comfortable housing.  It was immediately apparent to me that the department is collaborative; they did not need to tell me, I could sense it.  Professors and graduate students knew each other both personally and professionally and the program seemed to encourage theses that bridged labs.  This interview stood out among the rest and after this visit, it was hard to ignore my heart screaming that I had found what I was looking for!  As a first year, I have found that graduate school is not hard; it is extraordinarily hard!  Princeton has provided me with daily challenges unlike anything I experienced in my undergraduate studies.  However, it is the support and encouragement that I receive from my peers and professors and the love I have for this department and institution that makes the pursuit of my Ph.D. the most rewarding experience of my life. The Molecular Biology Department is truly a scientific community that fosters an environment filled with excitement, high intellect and success. —Kelly LaRue