Offer Letters Go Out to Prospective Students

By Mika Ono

A select few budding young scientists recently ripped open a FedEx package to find a letter that began:

"I am writing to inform you that the Admissions Committee has met and carefully considered the content of your application for admission to the Graduate Program at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI). I am delighted to inform you that, on the basis of the review of your application and your visit to our campus recently, we are prepared to offer you a position in the Ph.D. Program."

The Office of Graduate Studies predicts that 30 to 35 of these students will make up TSRI's fall 2002 entering class.

TSRI's admissions cycle generally begins the latter part of the year, when the first applications—consisting of the applicant's letters of recommendation, transcripts, GRE scores, and statement of purpose—were received by the Office of Graduate Studies. At the January 1 deadline, 258 domestic applications and 172 international applications were ready for review.

The application packets were sent to one of two admissions committees. This year, the Macromolecular and Cellular Structure and Chemistry (MCSC) Program Admissions Committee is composed of: Jaimie Williamson (chair), Charlie Brooks, Ben Cravatt, Nick Gascoigne, Libby Getzoff, Kim Janda, Fred Jones, Curt Wittenberg, and Steve Mayfield. The Chemistry Program Admissions Committee is composed of Erik Sorensen (co-chair), Phil Dawson (co-chair), Chi-Huey Wong (co-chair), M.G. Finn, Floyd Romesberg, and Jamie Williamson.

Each committee member independently reviewed and rated the applications. Committee members then met as a group to make the final decision about which applicants would be invited to go on to the next stage of the admissions process: a visit to the TSRI campus.

These applicants attended one of three prospective student weekends organized by the Office of Graduate Studies in February and March. The visits provided prospective students with an opportunity to learn about graduate life at TSRI. Organized activities included a student get-together at the La Jolla restaurant Cozymel's, interviews with some half a dozen to a dozen faculty with similar research interests, a presentation from Human Resources, a tour of the campus, and a reception followed by dinner in the Conference Center.

Time was also available to explore the surrounding San Diego area.

Throughout the weekend, each prospective student was guided by a current TSRI student, often from the same alma matter or with similar research interests.

"Pairing prospective students with current students works really well," says Marylyn Rinaldi, graduate program administrator. "Prospective students get a real idea of what it is like here. Current students tell it like it is. And we want our students to know about all aspects of graduate life here before they arrive."

The campus visits also provided members of the admission committees with an opportunity to meet the students in person and make a final evaluation of their potential as scientists. After the campus visits were completed this month, committee members gathered once more to decide which of the students were to receive an offer letter.

Now replies from the students are starting to roll in.

"We already have eight students who have confirmed they will attend in the fall," says Rinaldi. "I don't think we've ever had so many students accept so early."





"I don't think we've ever had so many students accept so early," says Marylyn Rinaldi, graduate program administrator. Photo by Kevin Fung.