Campus Hosts Prospective Students

By Mika Ono

About 40 of the country's most promising young science students listened attentively as Jeffery Kelly, Dean of the Kellogg School of Science and Technology at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), stepped up to the front of the room to describe the institute's Ph.D. program.

"The emphasis here is on learning," said Kelly. "Scripps is a small place, an interesting place, a place that fosters creativity."

Most students had arrived in San Diego the night before to attend one of TSRI's three "recruitment weekends" this month, designed to provide them with information about all aspects of the institute's graduate programs.

"We want to provide flexibility to the students to move among disciplines," Kelly continued. "We want to provide the support and resources so that you can come to work everyday and not worry about the things that you have to worry about later in life—like health coverage and money to buy books."

Students in TSRI's programs follow a core curriculum according to specialty. Classes are taught by more than 100 faculty members representing every department at TSRI. Optional, independent courses provide special topics and methods training in such areas as x-ray diffraction, statistical mechanics, nuclear magnetic resonance techniques, immunology, and virology. As part of their training, students rotate through different laboratories, which enables the budding young scientists to explore different areas of research.

TSRI's graduate programs are ranked among the top ten in the nation. U.S. News & World Report places TSRI sixth overall in chemistry—second in the specialty of organic chemistry—and ninth overall in the biological sciences.

At the end of his presentation, Kelly asked the students to stand and say a few words on who they were and why they were there.

The answers varied. Some were finishing college; others had years of research experience. A few had already decided on one very focused area of research; others were torn between larger disciplines. Undergraduate institutions represented included Harvard University, Yale University, Cal Tech, UC schools, Northwestern University, University of Arkansas, and Williams College.

However, the prospective students had one thing in common—almost everyone seemed genuinely excited about being at TSRI.

Again and again, they cited TSRI's reputation for quality: "I'm here because it's one of the best programs out there"; "I'm here because the Chemistry Program is top-notch"; "I want to do synthetic chemistry and this is a great place to do it!"

Many mentioned the opportunity to integrate chemistry and biology: "I want to merge the biology that I love with the chemistry that excites me"; "I'm a chemistry major interested in getting more into biology."

Others named specific faculty member whose work they admired. One student added poignantly, "I really want to come here and hope I'm accepted!"

As the introductions ended, Associate Dean Jamie Williamson prepared the students for the day ahead. The schedule included intensive interviews with some half dozen to a dozen faculty members, a tour of TSRI's campus and specialized research facilities, a presentation on benefits, and lunch, reception and dinner which provided an opportunity to speak with the deans, current students, additional faculty members, and the Graduate Office staff.

"Make the most of the day," advised Williamson. "Pay attention. Don't be afraid to ask hard questions. You'll have fun..."



Prospective students visit TSRI to learn about the institute's highly rated Ph.D. programs. Photos by Kevin Fung.