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Student Perspectives

Katherine Andersh

Katherine Andersh

Why Neuroscience

I wanted to study a blend of biology and chemistry as well as psychology and behavior

Why The University of Rochester

Rochester had the best financial support and PI funding availability compared to other public schools

Program Uniqueness

Very supportive and truly collaborative

Advice To Prospective Students

Be willing to go outside of your comfort zone and experience a wide variety of research focuses

Learned Skills

Basics of writing research papers, giving concise presentations, reading papers from a variety of backgrounds

Research Interests

Neurodegeneration and injury

Current Research Projects

ER stress and its role in apoptosis

Career Goals

Academia or research assistant professor

Living In Rochester

There are a  wide variety of available activities and cultures represented

Holly Beaulac

Holly Beaulac​

Why Neuroscience

In high school, learning about the CNS, dissecting brains, and being able to design and conduct my own experiment enhanced my interest in the neurosciences.  I have since earned BS and MS neuroscience degrees from the University of New England (UNE) in Biddeford, ME, and Brandeis University in Waltham, MA, respectively. Prior to attending the University of Rochester (UR), I worked as a technician and lab manager in three different labs within UNE's Center for Excellence in Neuroscience.  Contributing to our understanding of various neurological diseases and disorders continues to be a very rewarding endeavor.

Why The University of Rochester

University of Rochester has a sterling reputation for neuro-scientific research and its laboratory community is very collaborative and supportive.  This was the first school at which I interviewed for a PhD and I immediately noticed the fervent, friendly, and caring attitudes expressed among the faculty and students.  Everyone is extremely knowledgeable and always going out of their way to help others improve.  This is exactly the environment in which I want to prepare my future scientific career and maintain a healthy social life.

Program Uniqueness

The NGP emphasizes individual intellectual rigor balanced with communal engagement within and outside of the university.  You're not here solely to pump out data for your lab but instead are encouraged to create a well-rounded skill set and network to enhance your role as a neuroscientist.

Program Recommendation

The NGP does its best to prepare students for upcoming challenges they will experience in the field through rigorous classes,  writing exercises, and annual presentations on their lab work.  Having an assigned first year committee for guidance is extremely helpful and the Student Seminar is a great way to track the progress of your own and others' projects.  The students and faculty are also very close and collaborate often.

Advice To Prospective Students

Graduate school, and science in general, is a series of highs and lows.  Not all of these are predictable.  Being passionate about your work and willfully acknowledging what you know and don't know is what will drive you through the next 5 years or more.  When deciding whether or not to pursue a PhD, be sure you're ready to dedicate yourself to developing significant and original research.  This includes spending a lot of time reading/planning and taking full advantage of the tools around you.  

Learned Skills

The most important skills I've been able to learn and improve upon include understanding how to conduct hypothesis-driven research, ask important questions, and communicate my research to diverse audiences.  My training has included:  research collaborations, career planning, scientific communication, public outreach, biomedical ethics, and teaching. 

Research Interests

My research interests include the examination of specific molecular pathways that contribute to human neurological/sensory disorders and disease.

Current Research Projects

As a member of Dr. Patricia White's Lab, I'm studying the genetic mechanisms involved in cochlear response to stress within a mouse model of noise induced hearing loss.  Specifically, I'm testing the effects of transcription factor FOXO3's deletion within the cochlea in response to a mild noise stimulus.  I'm also helping investigate SIRT3's role in the quality of hearing across aging. 

Career Goals

I'm leaning towards a position in industry or even scientific writing. UR offers a short internship opportunity of which I may take advantage.  I also plan on joining URBEST during my 4th year to identify other career avenues.

Living In Rochester

There's plenty to do when taking a break from the lab. Rochester holds several festivals, concerts, and sporting events year-round in addition to those in nearby Buffalo and Toronto.  There's a lot of green space (e.g. Highland Park, Erie Canal Path), great bars and restaurants, several shopping areas and a Farmer's Market, and interesting museums/historical sites. Lake Ontario and the Finger Lakes are only short drives away with the Adirondacks and Niagara Falls relatively close by for weekend trips.

Karl Foley

Karl Foley

Why The University of Rochester

People come here for the right reasons. It's a collaborative, strikingly friendly place with a lot to offer outside of the school as well. Of course, it's also a very strong program with producing quality research.

Program Uniqueness

The people

Current Research Projects

Molecular biology and electrophysiology studies of synaptic plasticity regulation.

Career Goals

Academic medicine and research.

Photo of Monique Mendes

Monique Mendes

Why Neuroscience

I am originally from Kingston, Jamaica and did my undergraduate work at the University of Florida in Gainesville. I decided to study neuroscience due to observing those around me succumb to the effects of neurological disease. Recent improvements in developing novel treatments for neurodegenerative diseases and the hope that these will favorably impact those affected are my main motivator.

Why The University of Rochester

I chose the University of Rochester because of the diverse and collaborative nature of the Neuroscience graduate program. I have no doubt that I will receive the best training and opportunities.

Living In Rochester

I've only been here for about 2 months and I enjoy the city. If you’re an outdoors person like me you'll find there is always something to do. I've gone kayaking down the Genesee River and that was a lot of fun. I look forward to exploring Rochester in the coming months.

Advice To Prospective Students

I would suggest applicants and/or incoming students to take advantage of the many resources available on the website and to get to know the institution and the faculty. Last, don't be afraid to ask questions.

Career Goals

I enjoy the camaraderie of an academic institution and see myself excelling in that setting; therefore I will enter academia upon completion of my degree.

Photo of Humberto Mestre

Humberto Mestre

Why Neuroscience

I finished medical school at Anahuac University in Mexico City, Mexico and decided to study neuroscience because during my clinical training I saw that we were not able to offer effective therapies for many neurological diseases.

Why The University of Rochester

UR is a global leader in medical research and with an active interest in translation. With the establishment of the Ernest J. Del Monte Neuromedicine Institute, the Center for Translational Neuromedicine, and the future Neurorestoration Institute, UR is a hub for research in the field of neuroscience and neurology, and I wanted to be a part of it.

What tips would you give to applicants and/or incoming students?

The NGP at URMC is one of a kind. It really is the perfect confluence of a top-level scientific environment in a friendly and collaborative atmosphere. The myriad extracurricular opportunities sets NGP apart from other neuroscience programs in its tier.

Living In Rochester

Rochester is a vibrant city, rich in culture and history. There are a lot of activities and places to see. It also has many amazing nature parks that are very worthwhile for hiking and camping.

What are you plans after you earn your PhD degree?

I am interested in establishing a research institute in Mexico focused towards studying the neurobiology of aging.

Laura Owlett

Laura Owlett

Why Neuroscience

Neuroscience has been a passion of mine since I started reading Oliver Sacks books as a teenager. Since then, my motivation is derived from experiencing the toll that neurological diseases have on patients and their families. In my opinion, neuroscience and neurology have the greatest potential for change and discovery in the coming decades, and I'm excited to be a part of that.

Why The University of Rochester

Actually, I really did not want to stay in NY for my graduate work- I felt like experiencing something new after being in the area for undergrad. However, after visiting the U of R and meeting a number of faculty, I was impressed by the collaborative nature and ease with which faculty interacted. It was that feel along with the high impact research happening here that convinced me to stay in NY- and I don't regret it!

Program Uniqueness

One unique thing about the U of R that I love is the 'all under one roof' philosophy. Most of the biomedical science labs are in the same building as the medical school, which is also connected to the hospital. It's easy to walk over to another lab if you have a question. This is in contrast to other schools I visited in which labs were spread out over a large campus. Having everyone in the same (large) building sets the stage for collaboration and connection and Rochester certainly takes advantage of it. 

Research Interests

My research interest is in neurodegenerative disease. These diseases, particularly Alzheimer's disease, have such an impact on patients' quality of life, and the failure of many clinical trials begs for more basic science research in order to truly understand the pathogenesis. 

Career Goals

I hope to enter a research-focused residency program in neurology following graduation. After that I hope to specialize further in the field of neurology by doing a fellowship, which I hope will lead to finding a niche in which I can see patients and conduct research. 

Living In Rochester

Rochester is an underrated city! It has the culture and arts of a large city but also has many opportunities to be outside with its numerous festivals and parks. The cost of living is pretty low too, making it easy for graduate students to have a high quality of life.

Photo of Garrick Salois

Garrick Salois

Why Neuroscience

I am from Bay City, Michigan and I was a psychology major at Saginaw Valley State University. My time as a psychology major made me extremely interested in the fascinatingly complex physical phenomena that ultimately underlie behavior and cognition. I was especially interested in how different cell types of the brain interact in neuroplasticity and neurodegeneration.

Why The University of Rochester

Several labs from the University of Rochester produced papers that were pivotal to this interest, and that led me to pursue a graduate education here. After I got a chance to speak with so many incredible scientists during my interviews and witness the academic atmosphere here, I was confident this was where I wanted to be.

Living In Rochester

I really like Rochester so far! Compared to where I am from, there is so much more to do - especially great food and music.

Advice To Prospective Students

For applicants, don't be afraid to show how excited you are about science - if you aren't passionate about your work, interviewers will notice. For incoming students, definitely try to do a summer lab rotation if at all possible, it is a great way to focus on a lab as well as get used to Rochester before you are inundated with classes.

Career Goals

I'm not sure of my plans after earning my PhD. What I do know is I like to be at the bench doing experiments and constantly learning new things, so the idea of being a career research scientist appeals to me.

Keshov Sharma

Keshov​ Sharma

Why Neuroscience

From high school, I knew that I wanted to go into neuroscience, did it as a major in college, and kept with it for my MD-PhD.

Why The University of Rochester

In the end, I felt like I fit in better with the people here and the PIs that I interviewed with were genuinely interested in my work, ideas, and hearing my thoughts. I can't overstate how important it was that the PIs I spoke to were open to talking about my ideas and plans. 

Program Uniqueness

In my case, the research that is going on here is especially unique and unexpected considering the smaller overall size of U of R. On a larger scale, the diversity of neuroscience ventures here, from cellular to BCS and imaging makes this a great place to string a bunch of modalities together.

Program Recommendation

I would recommend that people who want to experience a variety of different neuroscience related fields and/or take the lead on pursuing their own ideas consider Rochester because people have been supportive of both these things here.

Learned Skills

Some medicine, some research, and a lot about myself. 

Research Interests

Connections between the Amygdala and Prefrontal Cortex    Neuroimaging

Current Research Projects

Comparing the structure and function of amygdala prefrontal circuitry between mice and non-human primates    Developing a resting state fMRI network analysis algorithm that reproduces histologically verified directional connectivity

Career Goals

I would like to be a practicing neuropsychiatrist, primary investigator, and institute director. 

Living In Rochester

Contrary to how people complain about 'lack of stuff to do' when they first come to Rochester (in my day, it was because they could not Uber everywhere on demand), this city has almost everything going on. It takes a little work, but you can find the types of bars and restaurants you like, shows you want to see, outdoor events you wan to attend, and much more. 

Emily Warner

Emily Warner

Why Neuroscience

The brain is fascinating 

Why The University of Rochester

The overwhelming sense of family is what made me decide on Rochester. The students and the faculty seemed happy here and everyone seemed to get along.

Program Uniqueness

The strong student/faculty relationships 

Advice To Prospective Students

Come with an open mind and step out of your comfort zone.

Living In Rochester

There is always something going on. There are many festivals and things going on in and around Rochester. There are many things to do outdoors and places to explore