Hometown: Spokane, WA
Undergraduate: Brown University
(photo: Chatter Creek, Woodinville WA)
My favorite aspect of our department is the diverse and cutting edge research. I look forward to Fridays every week because of research reports, when I get to hear about the brilliant research my peers are doing. It keeps me up-to-date on different areas of the field and often sparks ideas for my own research. I feel motivated to add to the discovery that goes on in this department.
Current research: I am interested in how organisms maintain robustness, or the ability to develop the same despite genetic and environmental perturbations; I hope to find a molecular marker for organismal robustness to enable us to test whether naturally robust individuals and naturally non-robust individuals differ in the inheritance of traits.
Hometown: Shoreline, WA
Undergraduate: Carleton College
Master’s: Cambridge University
(photo: Alpental, Snoqualmie Pass)
My favorite aspects of the Department of Genome Sciences include the accessible faculty, engaged graduate students, diversity of research areas, wonderful facilities, and amazing opportunities for collaboration. In addition, as an MD-PhD student I enjoy great access to medical resources. I love Seattle for its mild weather, bike-friendly ethos, and close proximity to to the great outdoors. Seattle is small enough not to overwhelm but large enough to excite, and I’m taking full advantage of the awesome food and drink scene here, among other things.
Current research: Understanding fundamental mutational properties of human genomes using next-generation sequencing data.
Undergraduate: University of Maryland
(photo: Mt. Baker, with fellow GS grads Billy Edelman and Aaron McKenna)
I chose UW Genomes Sciences because it is the best place in the world for human genetic variation research. Our department is strong because of the students we recruit, the faculty, the training we receive, and the NIH support. Publications are a priority, but the majority of first authors on papers that come out of this department are graduate students. We are extremely multidisciplinary and collaborative on so many levels, and we have diverse groups of people from different walks of life working and solving problems together.
My favorite aspects of the department are the family atmosphere and its "student-centric" nature, as well as its location. Seattle has snowboarding, fishing, coffee, craft beer, seafood, and a great live music scene. Seattle is also populated with a high proportion of interesting people; intellectuals, artists, and athletes make a very healthy community of people as a whole. And coming from D.C., Seattle is a very safe city.
Current research: Blood typing using human genome sequence data.
Hometown: Portland, OR
Undergraduate: Stanford University
(photo: Seattle skyline from the Bainbridge Island ferry)
Genome Sciences is the perfect blend of everything I was looking for in a graduate department: it's collaborative, equally rooted in experimental and computational genetics, and the students are happy. The research is driven by cutting-edge technology, all of which we have access to and much of which we develop. Extensive collaboration within the department means that new ideas can move from tinkering to development incredibly quickly, and the lack of hierarchy means that students and faculty think and work directly together.
The department itself is driven by its graduate students, on a level I have not experienced elsewhere. So much effort and money is dedicated to training the graduate students not just to be good experimental and computational scientists, but good speakers, strong writers, and effective collaborators. The faculty really invest in their students, and I love hearing in Friday research reports how the students are running with that investment with bold and exciting projects. This investment also shows itself in graduate student happiness. I feel like the program trusts us to be good scientists, and that trust has built a really close community.
The laid-back, family feel within the department is reflected in Seattle. It is a very friendly city with endless coffee shops, bookstores, pubs, forest trails, and lakes to explore. I've loved getting to know the different neighborhoods and it's just an awesome place to be living.
Current research: Impact of allelic variation in known biofilm genes on yeast biofilm formation; discovery of novel biofilm gene pathways using whole genome sequencing of experimentally evolved yeast populations
Hometown: Mocksville, NC
Undergraduate: Princeton University
(photo: Suzzallo Library, UW campus)
I chose to come to GS because of the obvious support the department gives to its graduate students, especially in terms of career preparation. The faculty are also amazingly supportive, more so than I experienced at other departments.
Current research: Developing technology for high-throughput assays of protein solubility; transcriptional engineering.
Hometown: Bainbridge Island, WA
Undergraduate: University of Washington
(photo: Graves Creek, Olympic National Forest)
By the time I interviewed here I had seen and worked in a number of schools and departments and I was genuinely impressed by the graduate program here. The students seemed cared about and happy. So many departments are dreary halls full of depressed and lost looking graduate students and Genome Sciences is a real alternative to that. Besides having happy grad students, the other thing that amazed me was that the department does an unusually good job at both having accomplished and intelligent faculty while keeping egos in check. So many other departments seem ruled by an iron fist by particular high-powered labs. We have our stars as well but here they are happy to let (and even help!) others shine too. Collaboration isn't just a buzzword here.
Current research: My work uses comparative genomics to study large gene families, endogenous viral elements that transferred into the host genome, and the interaction of these two players and what they tell us about evolution.
Hometown: Philadelphia, PA
Undergraduate: University of Pennsylvania
Unlike training programs at other major research universities, GS puts graduate students first. Here, students can lead their own research projects rather than playing second fiddle to postdocs. In my lab, students have complete intellectual freedom to explore their own research interests, and (fortunately) a budget to match.
Because I'm interested in translational genomics, being so closely affiliated with a top-tier medical school is critically important. In my lab, we have several close collaborations with clinicians, ethicists, pathologists, and other medical professionals at UW. These collaborations go beyond sample collection; the input from collaborators helps to shape research goals and methods.
Additionally, I appreciate the fact that student contributions to intellectual property are taken seriously here. In a technology development lab, we are frequently generating ideas for genomic technology that could one day lead to commercial products. My advisor and the university as a whole are serious about filing provisional patents, protecting the interests of students, and giving credit where credit is due.
Current research: Prenatal diagnostics. Low-frequency variant detection. Probably other things to come.
Hometown: Seattle, WA
Undergraduate: University of Chicago
(photo: hiking in the North Cascades)
My favorite aspects of the Genome Sciences Department are the Department's: (1) strong emphasis on graduate student education; (2) collegial atmosphere among PIs, students, researchers, and staff; and (3) extensive brain power and resources.
Together, these three elements create an environment that encourages collaboration between different labs and foster opportunities for graduate students to take their research in unexpected but fruitful directions. For example, I have been grateful for the opportunity to work and publish with four different labs in the Department to date, which has allowed me to learn from the unique expertise each lab offers.
Current research: Developing and utilizing genomic and proteomic tools to elucidate how transcription factors regulate the genome during cellular and organismal development.