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Student Perspectives


SportielloMike Sportiello, G2

What are some of the reasons you chose Rochester?
"I chose Rochester because it has high impact research, and though that's true, it's not the full story. The truth is that people here are as excited to share their research with you as they are to have a beer with you. They're as inquisitive about your research as they are about your personal life. They're just good people, and I wanted to be a part of that learning environment."

ZhangVictor Zhang, M2

What are some of the reasons you chose Rochester?
"I went to UR for my undergraduate studies, so when it came time for me to decide on coming back for the MSTP program, I was able to draw on my familiarity with the school, the city, and also the research and faculty in my department. I was happy to come back because I enjoyed the environment and student community that I had experienced during my time here as an undergrad ... I also had some faculty members whose research I was very interested in."

What is your favorite memory from your time in the UR MSTP?
"I am still in the early stages of my training as an MSTP, but one of the most memorable things for me was my first week in the program that included the annual MSTP retreat. During that week I met all of the other members of my cohort and we became very close very quickly which really cemented the strong sense of community that I was hoping for."

AnkitAnkit Dahal, G1, IMV

What are some of the reasons you chose Rochester?
"The supportive and nurturing community from the administrators down to the students!"

How would you describe the Rochester community?
"Supportive, approachable, helpful. It is very easy to approach faculty members and many go out of their way to support and mentor you."

How have you been able to embrace or express the unique characteristics of your personality while at Rochester? 
"There are so many unique groups and organizations in Rochester, both on campus and in the city. Community outreach has always been important to me, and I have been able to tutor refugee kids from the area every Saturday on campus and work with kids interested in science to compete in science fairs. I am also thinking about joining an improv acting group in Rochester once the city opens back up!"

pizzarelloCatherine Pizzarello, G3, IMV

How did you know your current lab is the right fit for you?
"My PI and I get along very well. She is understanding of my work/life balance needs since I have a family. Her research focus is in pediatrics, which fit my desire to go into pediatrics, but mostly I chose the lab for its environment. I never really feel unreasonably stressed out or pressured. I also feel heard, understood, and respected. My PI also provides me with plenty of opportunities to attend conferences and present my research."

What is the most interesting thing about your research project?
"[The most interesting thing about my research project is that I have] access to human samples (breast milk, infant stool, blood, etc.) that I can form research questions around (ex. immunophenotyping infants, examining effects of breast milk and infant microbiome on intestinal immunity, etc.)."

Any advice for aspiring physician-scientists?
"Hang in there haha"

ScottScott Friedland, PhD, M4, Genetics

What are some of the reasons you chose Rochester?
"I went to Rochester for undergrad and, wanting to explore new areas, didn't think I would stay. However, when I was done interviewing, I realized that the place I felt I would be most taken care of was Rochester. Medical school and grad school are hard enough; there's no need to be in an environment that isn't warm, collaborative, and collegiate."

What is your favorite program sponsored event?
"We haven't done one in a while, but back in the day we used to go paintballing, and almost the whole program showed up. It was fantastic (and painful)! Also, I had no clue how much fun curling was before going with the program."

What extra opportunities have you received through Rochester that helped you develop professionally?
"That list is long. But some highlights include many opportunities to travel regionally and nationally to engage with other present and future physician scientists. As well as conferences to expand knowledge and skills as a cancer biologist and geneticist."

Any advice for aspiring physician-scientists?
"DO NOT PICK 'A LAB'!! Pick mentors you want to emulate and learn from, then work backwards to find a lab ... bad mentor-mentee relationships [can] turn you away from science, [whereas] good ones catapult careers."