Denisonians in Health Professions: Molecular & Developmental Biology

Name:  Kelsey Troyer (maiden name Elliott)
Denison Graduation Year:  Class of 2015
Denison Major:  Biology
Graduate Degree Type:  PhD in Molecular and Developmental Biology, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Class of 2020
Contact Me:  kelseyhope15@gmail.com


Describe the process you went through while selecting your graduate school and career pathway: what impacted your decision?

I was interested in programs that focused on ‘translational’ biomedical sciences, where I could work on human diseases. When going on interviews, the funding scenarios of the PI’s in the programs significantly weighed on my decision to choose a program in the end.

What challenges did you face on the way to or during graduate school, and how did you overcome them?

Finding somewhere to live when moving to a new city! It’s difficult to balance living somewhere close to work, but not too expensive. Graduate school stipends are tiny!! Finding roommates in your new graduate school class is a great way to get around this. Additionally, I found it difficult to decide which faculty I was going to rotate with since I had so many scientific interests! The best advice I got to curb that was to do extremely diverse rotations, I did one with a brand new faculty, one with a very established faculty member, and one with a mid-career faculty member, and all gave very different lab environments.

What has been your favorite part of your graduate school experience so far?

Indulging my curiosities and being able to set my own schedule. This is unfortunate a blessing and a curse, since grad students don’t get dedicated ‘Paid time off’ or ‘vacation days’, so I get to take as much or as little time off as I want, and work as many or as few hours a week as I need to. Some weeks are good, some weeks are bad. Flexibility is a fantastic thing about graduate school.

What are your professional plans post-graduation?

I am planning to do a post-doctoral fellowship followed by a career in Science Policy.

What advice would you give a current Denison student considering a graduate program like yours?

Think about what kind of research topics you want to do, and find a place where there are an abundance of faculty you could see yourself working with. Finding a place where the current students seem happy is also important. I did at least one interview somewhere that all the students couldn’t wait to leave the program. Make sure the program boasts about their rates of students landing their top choice post-doc or industry job, and that their faculty aren’t anti-industry! Some places will be full of faculty that look down on industry, and it’s important to find opportunities to explore that since not EVERY PhD can/wants to stay in academia.

Denisonians in Health Professions: Social & Behavioral Sciences

Name:  Kinsey B. Bryant-Lees
Denison Graduation Year:  Class of 2013
Denison Major:  Psychology; Women’s Studies (minor)
Professional Degree Type:  M.A. in Cognitive & Social Processes, Ball State University; PhD in Organizational Psychology, Wright State University, Class of 2019
Contact Me:  kbbryantlees@gmail.com


Describe the process you went through while selecting your graduate school pathway: what impacted your decision?

To be honest, I kind of wondered into my professional pathway by following the things that I was most interested in. I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in research and that I was particularly interested in the consequences of stereotypes and implicit biases in the workplace. I began by pursuing my M.A. in cognitive and social processes. While in my program, I became much more interested in applied research which lead me down the PhD path in Industrial Organizational Psychology.

What was your favorite part of your graduate/professional school experience?

My favorite part of my graduate/professional school experience was being able to conduct research completely independently, and pursue my own passions.

What are your professional plans post-graduation?

I have just recently finished my PhD (July 2019) and am beginning my career as a tenure track assistant professor at Northern Kentucky University this Fall. I plan to continue this, as well as work as an independent research consultant. I don’t really feel like I’ve gotten to enjoy it yet, but when it sinks in I think that one thing I am going to enjoy most is the autonomy to develop my own classes and pursue my own research goals.

What advice would you give a current Denison student considering a graduate or professional program like yours?

I have a few pieces of advice:

  1. It’s okay to not know exactly what you want to do when you graduate – just keep following what you’re passionate about and you’ll carve your own way.
  2. Don’t be discouraged by setbacks – full disclosure, I applied to 10 programs coming out of undergrad (1 masters program and 9 PhD programs). I was only accepted into the Master’s Program, which at the time was extremely discouraging and made me think that I was under-prepared for what was coming next. When I arrived, I was honestly over-prepared which allowed me to do my regular coursework, independent research, and get additional certifications simultaneously.
  3. Take advantage of everything Denison has to offer – this is something that everyone says, but I didn’t fully appreciate until after I had graduated. The education that you can get and the relationships that you can build at Denison are incredible.

Denison Grads in Grad School: PhD in Computer Science

Will Brackenbury

Denison Graduation Year:  Class of 2015
Denison Major(s):  Theatre & Economics
Graduate Degree Type:  PhD in Computer Science from University of Chicago, Class of 2022
Contact Me:  will.brackenbury1@gmail.com


Describe the process you went through while selecting your graduate school and career pathway: what impacted your decision?

I had been working as a consultant for a year and a half at the time. I was enjoying what I was doing, but as I looked ahead to the next steps in my career, I realized that the aspects of the job I enjoyed–data analysis, programming, and writing database queries–would diminish to almost nothing. I realized that attending graduate school in Computer Science would allow me to continue doing all these things, and in fact, would increase their importance in whatever job I would hold in the future.

What challenges did you face on the way to or during graduate school, and how did you overcome them?

The first year was especially challenging. Because I had been a Computer Science minor, and not a Computer Science major at Denison, I was comparatively behind my peers in terms of subject matter knowledge. Additionally, the first year was when course requirements were most demanding. I had little time to devote to the aspects of the graduate school experience I enjoyed most (research, attending seminars), and this was very draining. However, I had built a community among my fellow PhD students, and by leaning on each other, we helped motivate each other to make it through the most difficult times.

What has been your favorite part of your graduate school experience so far?

I absolutely love the subject matter, and because of this, the job of being a PhD student is the best I can imagine. The incredible freedom to mold my own working and learning experience is easily my favorite aspect of graduate school.

What are your professional plans post-graduation?

I plan to work in a research lab in industry after graduation.

What advice would you give a current Denison student considering a graduate program like yours?

If you’re able, get involved in research as an undergraduate. I was lucky enough to have had the chance to participate in summer research at Denison, and the publication resulting from that experience was a major differentiator in my application.

Denisonians in Health Professions: Pharmaceutical Science

Denisonians in health professions: pharmaceutical science - 03-04-19-lauren-thompson-300x300.jpg image #0Name: Lauren Thompson
Denison Graduation Year: 2018
Denison Major: Biochemistry, Mathematics (minor)
Graduate School: PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, Class of 2023
Contact me: thomps_l1@denison.edu

What is the focus of your graduate/professional school and what content has most engaged you?
I am in a Pharmaceutical Sciences PhD graduate program. While the classes are fascinating and challenging, I most enjoy my time in the lab. My program has us rotate through 3 different labs in our first year so I’m getting experience working with cell lines, mouse models, and patient clinical data.

Describe the process you went through while selecting your graduate or professional school pathway: what impacted your decision?
For me, the interviews were vital in really getting a feel for a program. In talking with the students and faculty, I was able to tell where I would fit in. Additionally, it was important to me that whichever program I chose had multiple labs that I was interested in. This way I would have a chance to rotate and make the best decision for myself.

What challenges did you face on the way to graduate or professional school, and how did you overcome them?
I had spent the first 22 years of my life surrounded by friends and family in Ohio. Graduate school was my first time going off on my own. While this is certainly challenging, my parents have been very supportive, especially with the big move (21 hours of driving!). Living alone in a new state is certainly scary but the other students in my program have been a great resource and I’ve even connected with some old Denison friends!

What are your professional plans post-graduation?
I’ve only just started my program so I’m not entirely sure yet but I’ll likely end up in pharmaceutical industry. If not, I could definitely see myself running a research lab in an academic institution.

What advice would you give a current Denison student considering a graduate or professional program like yours?
Talk with other students who have been there! Don’t be afraid to reach out to Denison connections and even faculty members at programs you’re interested in. They’re surprisingly approachable and it can help your chances at getting an interview! Also, the absolute best thing to prepare yourself for graduate school is your lab experience. Get involved on campus, look for summer programs in fields you’re interested in (I did a couple in Pharmacology & Pharmaceutical Sciences labs off campus), and make sure you really understand your previous research and can talk about it!