Student Perspectives

Photo of Amanda Guise.

Amanda Guise

Five or six years is a long time to spend in one place – graduate school can be rough sometimes, but it's also a lot of fun. And, in the end, finding a place where you can be happy for the next however many years is really the most important thing. I decided to come to Princeton because it just felt right – and it still does. It's a rare opportunity to be surrounded by such raw enthusiasm for science, and that sort of excitement is contagious. In our department, the faculty and students are here because they want to be here. This is a department where a Nobel laureate will not only attend your first research talk, but will also pay attention to what you have to say; where professors ask questions not just as a test of knowledge, but out of a real curiosity for the answers, if there even are answers. Yes, Princeton has all the cool gadgets and toys of a major research university, a renowned faculty, some phenomenal graduate level courses, and a great reputation. But these all fall second to the dedication of this department to its own constant intellectual growth and improvement. In my almost-two years here, I have found the faculty, staff, and graduate students to be incredibly interested and invested in the education, progress, and success of every member of our department. I think this devotion is among the greatest assets of this department and is what sets it apart from many other excellent programs that would otherwise stack up equally in the which-school-should-I-choose pro/con list. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about our program, grad school, or Princeton in general!  —Amand Guise

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Allison Hall

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

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Matthew King

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