Student Perspectives

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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

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Conrad Tenenbaum

My work in a Drosophila genetics lab as an undergraduate was undoubtedly priceless. Among other inspirations, it left me with a strong appreciation for the importance of gene regulation in fostering phenotypic variation. At the same time, day-to-day lab experiences also piqued my interests in Drosophila behavior, while coursework kept me thinking about the evolutionary context of the life as we know it. As I began considering graduate schools, I had to wonder: how could I reconcile all of these interests? It became clear I would need to find a program which emphasized an interdisciplinary and collaborative approach to research. On paper, many seemed to fit the bill. Yet, after flying around from one university to another, I could tell that one program truly delivered on that advertisement. Much more than anywhere else I visited, Princeton's Molecular Biology department seemed to hold an unabashedly interdisciplinary view on science while encouraging a collaborative atmosphere between students and faculty. To me, this meant that the program could allow students to explore innovative research across disciplines without being so large as to lose them in a crowd. One year later, I have to say my impressions didn't lead me astray! Academics and research aside, I've found that graduate student life at Princeton has been all I could ask for! Where can I begin? The department provides a generous stipend; the housing is safe, affordable, and close to campus; the campus is beautiful in all four seasons with opportunities for outdoor recreation abound; shops, international restaurants, and dessert parlors are all found on Nassau Street; and cities, beaches, and mountains are just a short drive or train ride away. In short, I couldn't have picked a better place for graduate school. —Conrad Tenenbaum

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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