Spotlight

Soo Ji Kim
Graduate Student in the laboratory of Michael Rust
Flexibility in choosing a lab was key for me as I didn’t know what specifically I wanted to study in grad school, and University of Chicago’s Molecular Biosciences cluster offered exactly that. After joining the program, I was able to sample a variety of labs in and out of my own department through rotations and ended up choosing a lab outside of BMB. Even so, things I learned as a BMB student constantly inform and guide me throughout my project, and I enjoy and benefit from continued close relationships with the BMB professors and students. In general, there was a lot of interest in collaborations and intellectual investment in the colleagues’ work, both in the PI and the student levels, which appealed to me greatly as well. Life outside of the lab, of course, was another very important factor. During the interview process, I immediately fell in love with how people seemed relaxed and were supportive of one another, and I loved hearing about what everyone regularly does for fun. It was easy for me to imagine how I would find my place in this community and establish balanced day-to-day routines. I also got the sense that the professors respect the graduate students as colleagues capable of making independent contributions, which was true for most of the professors in my experience.   
Haneul Yoo
Graduate Student in the laboratory of D. Allan Drummond
I chose UChicago BMB because I found its rigorous but collegial environment an ideal place for getting trained as a graduate student. The first year curriculum exposed me to a wide range of biological sciences, which helped me approach my research problem from multiple perspectives later on. The fun and collaborative nature of the department, which was clear to me from the interview day, made it easy to try new things, bounce off ideas, and ask for help when needed.  
Adam Zmyslowski
Graduate Student in the laboratory of Tobin Sosnick
I initially identified the University of Chicago for my PhD because I had a narrow technical focus on what I wanted to study and several labs here aligned with those interests. While interviewing, the openness and collegiality of everybody I spoke to made a deep impression. Also, to put it plainly, the students here seemed on average to be significantly happier than those at some of the other places I looked at. I also liked that the whole cluster had weekly, informal talks given by and for students, including many research areas I might otherwise not have been exposed to. Similarly, due to a fortunate clustering of buildings on campus, in between experiments I've often been able to wander into talks on topics ranging from synthetic chemistry to ecology. While the strengths of the program have helped me to shift techniques and research directions as needed, the friendly environment and opportunity to pursue my curiosity has led to encounters which also contributed to discovery, and made many of those late nights spent in the lab more pleasant.
Christina Roman
Christina Roman
Graduate Student in the laboratory of Joseph Piccirilli
When I was choosing between graduate schools I was looking at five very competitive structural biology programs. Most were on the east coast because I had planned to stay near my friends and family. At the time I had been working at UChicago as a PREP student. UChicago's culture seemed to jive really well with my "I'll just build it" approach to problem solving. Being outspoken and passionate was much more tolerated here than it was in my undergraduate institution. Later on, I realized this was because UChicago's culture values individualism and its funding structures give students the freedom to make their ideas into tangible projects. If you can clearly communicate your ideas, you can find someone who is willing to invest in them, and that suited me just fine. On top of the freedom, UChicago actually valued teaching as a profession and a skill. In my undergraduate experience, poor teaching was a major contributor to URM attrition in the sciences. Attending classes at UChicago as a PREP student allowed me to see just how seriously professors took the responsibility of teaching here, and it gave me hope. Also the Center for Teaching and Learning, a UChicago facility (and program) that provides pedagogical training for faculty and TA's, seemed like a valuable resource for my development as an educator well. What finally made up my mind however, was how the faculty at UChicago talked to me during the one on one interviews. At most schools, if I brought up the lack of diversity in the sciences, professors either got visibly uncomfortable and panicked or showed their hand by saying something rude or dismissive. UChicago was the only school where faculty were comfortable and enthusiastic when talking about diversifying the sciences. I suppose the differences that made UChicago stand out to me all came down to how much they respected their students. Students were worthy of respect enough to fund their projects. They were worthy of respect enough to teach them with skill and intention. Even recruits were worthy of respect enough to listen to what they had to say about how women and people of color are treated in science. UChicago made me feel like it would treat me like a whole person, not just a lab rat so that's why I chose to stay. Now it would be remiss to suggest that my experience here has been easy. This is a tough school and a demanding program but finding my way through it made me find my center and helped me come into my own. I think the barriers that I’ve faced here exist everywhere in academia. UChicago isn’t a special exception to the systemic problems that academia is dealing with, but they are willing to deal with them, which to me is enough. 
Marta Borowska
Graduate Student in the laboratory of Erin Adams
I went to the University of Chicago with a clear research goal in mind. After a year of taking classes and exploring different laboratories I decided to expand my interests and join a new area of research in immunology. With the right support of the BMB Department, mentors and colleagues I thrived in this stimulating and unpredictable new scientific path. I learned that the exciting things happen once we leave our comfort zone. Thanks to the BMB Department I am better prepared for future challenges.
Jay Pittman
Graduate Student in the laboratory of Stephen Meredith
I chose the University of Chicago because I was offered the opportunity to explore incredibly exciting research topics without limitation. The faculty have provided a thoughtful and caring environment for me to cultivate my interests and navigate the numerous fields being explored in the BMB Department. I always feel encouraged to collaborate with my colleagues and gain the interdisciplinary knowledge necessary to make me a better researcher.
Simone Rauch
Graduate Student in the laboratory of Bryan Dickinson
I chose to pursue my graduate studies at the University of Chicago because of the diversity of research opportunities and flexibility of the BMB department and the molecular biosciences cluster. Aside from the collaborative and innovate research conducted at the University of Chicago, I was sold by the welcoming and supportive environment the students and department foster here. Throughout my entire PhD program, I was provided with many opportunities to explore different scientific and career development avenues and I am grateful that the University values all the aspects of graduate education. 
Jun Huang
Graduate Student in the laboratory of Ray Moellering
I chose to pursue my PhD studies at the University of Chicago because of its collaborative and innovative research environment, abundance of available resources, and flexibility to explore my scientific interests. However, what ultimately sold me were the nurturing community which I was able experience even during interview weekend, and the dedication to career development like the myCHOICE program. I am grateful that the University truly wants their students to do well in every possible way.
Philip McGilvray
Graduate Student in the laboratory of Robert Keenan
I chose to pursue my graduate studies at the University of Chicago because so many labs were doing interesting, impactful research. I knew I would find a project that would remain stimulating throughout my graduate experience, allowing me to focus on finding a lab with a culture that fit me best. Being grounded in a scientific question that really interested me was integral to my growth, pushing me to learn new techniques, explore new areas, and driving me to become a better scientist. 
Katherine Leon
Graduate Student in the laboratory of Demet Arac-Ozkan
I chose to attend the University of Chicago because of the strong structural biology research as well as support from research facilities both on campus and at nearby Argonne National Laboratory, both of which have been essential for carrying out my thesis research. In addition, I could see from my campus visit that the University of Chicago values an interdisciplinary and collaborative environment, from the cluster organization which brings together diverse groups of students and faculty to the open lab designs which foster the sharing of ideas and resources. 
Christopher Katanski
Graduate Student in the laboratory of Alan Drummond
When I first interviewed at the University of Chicago a graduate student told me, “you’ll do great science wherever you go,” but the important thing is to find a school where the culture fits. For me, University of Chicago was right fit. I found a culture that values rigor and intensity in research, but also finds time to chat about science over a beer every Friday. Students and faculty are more than colleagues, they’re supportive and generous friends. I chose University of Chicago primarily for the people and found great science along the way.