Todays Visitors, Tomorrows Students
By Mika Ono
Weekends at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have been
busier than usual recently, as prospective graduate students
from around the country have come to visit the campus, meet
with faculty and students, and learn about TSRIs graduate
This year, were expecting some 120 prospective
students to visit the campus over four weekends, says
Marylyn Rinaldi, graduate program administrator. "We set up
interviews for each candidate to meet with the scientists
that he or she has expressed an interest in doing their thesis
research with. That way, candidates get the most out of their
Each year a total of over 350 individuals apply to TSRIs
two graduate programs, Chemistry, and Macromolecular and Cellular
Structure and Chemistry (MCSC), by the January 1 deadline.
Members of the selection committeesJeffery Kelly, Erik
Sorensen, Chi-Huey Wong, and Philip Dawson for Chemistry;
Kelly, Stephen Mayfield, and James Williamson for MCSCthen
review the applications to decide who will be invited to visit.
Travel and lodging arrangements are made by the Office of
Once the prospective students arrive in San Diego, they
are escorted through a dizzying three-day schedule of activities.
As they attend interviews, meetings, dinners, receptions,
tours, and parties, business is mixed with pleasure. "They
get a lot of attention," says Rinaldi.
Throughout, both the candidates and TSRI evaluate each other
as potential partners in an important union. What is at stake?
For the candidates, choosing a graduate program is one of
the most important decisions in their career. For TSRI, attracting
talented students is key to both the quality of its research
and its future reputation.
"We have to be pretty serious about a candidate to pick
up the expense of flying him or her out here," comments Rinaldi,
"but at the same time we dont accept everyone we interview.
Candidates have to demonstrate self-motivation and the ability
to ask the right questions when they are here. We recognize
that graduate studies can be a tough course and we want all
our students to succeed."
After the candidates have left, the selection committee
again meets, this time to determine who will receive an offer
letter. Those who accept this offer are often drawn to TSRIs
stellar rankings (listed in the top 10 nationwide in a "U.S.
News & World Report" review), outstanding faculty, and La
In a few short months, about 45 studentsamong these
weekend visitorswill return as the newest members of
TSRIs graduate program.
A reception offered prospective students
a chance to mingle with TSRI faculty, staff, and graduate