Rings of Support
By Mika Ono
Much goes into earning a Ph.D.long hours, hard
work, tenacity... Most graduates are fueled in this endeavor
by their passion for science and buoyed by the support of
family and friends.
This support took an unusual twist for this year's class
of The Scripps Research Institute's Kellogg School of Science
and Technology. Four of the 16 students entering the Chemistry
Program in 1998 fell in love and married each other during
the course of their studies. All four are graduating this
"We were a social class," says graduate Winston Tse, who
is now working as a medicinal chemist at Gilead Sciences in
the San Francisco Bay Area. "Even outside of the coursework,
we participated in a lot of activities together."
"Winston and I liked each other right away," adds graduate
Martha Lovato, now a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University.
"And, as they say, the rest is history!"
The story of Christopher Vanderwal, now a postdoc at Harvard
University, and Danielle Soenen, now a chemist with Massachusetts
start-up firm Scion Pharmaceuticals, is remarkably similar.
Chris and Danielle met at the recruitment weekend for Scripps
in the spring of '98, both were accepted into the entering
class that fall, and, in the course of socializing with their
classmates, quickly became friendsthen more than friends.
Danielle and Chris married in 2001.
Winston and Martha married in 2002.
Both couples invited fellow lab members and their dissertation
advisorsProfessors Erik Sorensen and Dale Boger for
Chris and Danielle's wedding, and Professors Boger and Paul
Schimmel for Winston and Martha's wedding. "Dr. Schimmel was
terrific on the dance floor!" notes Martha.
But then, after the nuptials were over, how was the experience
of being married to another stressed-out graduate student
struggling to complete a dissertation?
"It was perfect," said Martha, "Because Winston and I worked
in the same building, we were close to each other 24 hours
a day. And we could talk about chemistry. Our fields were
close enough so we could understand each other, but different
enough so we could contribute another point of view."
"We could have lunch together every day!" says Winston.
"I miss that now."
Chris and Danielle echo these sentiments. "There was a lot
of mutual support," notes Chris. "We really understood what
each other was going through."
Danielle adds, "There was no one home to cook dinnerand
that was fine."
The couples' thesis dedications reflect their appreciation
for each other and for other important people in their lives.
"For my Father and my Mother and for the love of my life,
Martha," writes Winston. "To Winstonhappy birthday,"
writes Martha. "Dedicated to my wife and family," says Chris.
"Dedicated to my husband Chris, my parents Luc and Linda,
and my brother Philippe," says Danielle.
The thesis dedications of other graduating students also
reveal the circles of people who made the students' achievements
possiblespouses, parents, grandparents, teachers, and
For example, the dedication of graduate Ing Wei Khor mentions
both her grandfather, Khor Choo Eong, and the late dean of
the Kellogg School program, Norton "Bernie" Gilula: "Bernie,
you told us to go out there and make a discovery. Those words
as well as your encouragement and belief in me will never
The individuals in the Kellogg School Class of '04 have
much reason to be proud. So do those who shared their love,
encouragement, and support with them.
Send comments to: mikaono[at]scripps.edu
Four of the 16 students entering the Scripps Research
Chemistry Program in 1998 fell in love and married each other
during the course of their studies. Class of '04 graduates
Winston Tse and Martha Lovato were two of them. Photo
by Jason S. Bardi
Danielle Soenen and Christopher Vanderwall, also both
Class of '04, first met at a Scripps Research recruitment
weekend. Photo by Kevin Fung.