Student Perspectives

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Scott Breunig

Princeton’s Molecular Biology graduate program has offered me a wide spectrum of choices for both research and coursework. I've been able to work with professors from different fields and departments and finally chose to continue my research as part of a joint project with the Chemistry and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology departments. The Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics engenders such collaboration, and reflects the rule rather than the exception at Princeton. The constant flow of speakers invited to Princeton from a wide array of research interests further stimulates cross-disciplinary investigations. Course offerings follow this interdisciplinary theme, and they are often taught by more than one professor, bringing classic biology and new techniques and ideas together. While some classes involve a large proportion of first-year graduate students, others are much smaller or include students from other departments and often promote a discussion-based curriculum. I love Princeton’s proximity to my East Coast home and a large number of major cities, as well as the Jersey Shore and even a chance to get away for a weekend and ski. The ease of getting to major airports makes domestic and worldwide travel easy and inexpensive. The Princeton campus hosts a number of events through the year thanks to a large on-campus undergraduate population, including performing arts, intramural leagues and world-renowned speakers. If you have any questions about the program or Princeton in general, feel free to email me.  —Scott Breunig

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Marshall Reeves

From the day I arrived at Princeton, I have been able to pursue my interest in interdisciplinary biology to the full extent.  In a single day, I may be taught historic microbial genetics, develop tools for computational analysis, and discuss modern papers on the cutting edge of genomic all with leaders in these fields. The educational atmosphere at Princeton nurtures my desire to branch out from my comfort zone by providing opportunities such as interdisciplinary courses, lectures, and journal clubs. At my undergraduate university, being on the border between disciplines was difficult or even impossible.  At Princeton, it is accepted and even encouraged.  The Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics proves this by involving diverse faculty members from Physics, Computer Science, Chemistry, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and Engineering in addition to Molecular Biology.  Princeton has allowed me to realize what kind of science really drives and excites me.I enjoy the graduate student life unique to the Princeton Graduate College.  Social events, intramural sports, dining, and graduate organizations foster strong relationships with fellow graduate students.  Moreover, the Molecular Biology Department's activities work to form a close student community within the department itself.Coming to Princeton was the best decision I made to enhance my academic creativity. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. —Marshall Reeves

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Erin Haley

I am one of the first group of MD/PhD dual degree candidates to begin at Princeton. I’m thrilled with the reception I’ve received—the sincere interest in the motivations of an MD/PhD student, interactions about how translational research can be successfully carried out and implemented in the clinical setting, and the desire of Molecular Biology students and faculty to discuss the philosophical reasoning for studying basic science within the context of medicine.  I often remind myself that our basic science research is setting the groundwork for the clinical advances of the future in a very concrete way. A quick look at the research interests of various faculty members—cancer biology, virology, bacterial communication, parasitic virulence, stem cell biology, evolution, computer modeling of biological systems, and metabolomics (just to name a few)—reminds me that our research at the bench is completely invaluable and intimately tied to an innate desire to understand disease, cure illness, and save human lives.  I have been amazed by the collaborative efforts and generosity of the department. I know that the relationships forged between experts in many different fields are the most compelling reason that the research done at Princeton is so well received and highly respected within the scientific community. I have great hopes that my small contribution to the scientific community at large will be magnified by the strength of collaborative interactions with other researchers at Princeton as we generate answers to the unknown details of biology and their relationship with human disease.  —MD/PhD student UMDNJ