Four to six years is a long time to spend in one place – graduate school can be rough sometimes, but it's also a lot of fun. And in the end, finding a place where you can grow and be happy for the next however many years is really the most important thing. I decided to come to UTHSC for several reasons, but mostly because it just felt right – and as a 5th year Microbial Pathogenesis, Immunology and Inflammation graduate student, it still does.
Reasons that influenced my decision to attend UTHSC and study in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Biochemistry included the quality of the research and the potential resources that were available to me as a student. I am currently studying the genetics of differential susceptibility to pneumonic Burkholderia pseudomallei infection using a murine "BXD" strain collection coupled with in silico resources known as GeneNetwork to perform quantitative trait loci mapping. I never imagined that I would ever work with a Tier 1 select agent, but now, this is a reality and because of this I have been afforded the opportunity to work in a state-of-the-art Regional Biocontainment Facility, which is only one of 12 in the country. I have been able to gain valuable experience working under BSL-3 conditions, something I would have not been able to achieve at most institutions.
Another factor that drew me here is their focus on an interdisciplinary approach that coincides with the demands of modern biological research. For graduate students here at UTHSC, departmental lines do not present any hindrance to working with professors outside your selected track. In this sense, one does not feel "stuck" in one department or another but rather part of a collective, collaborative group of academics. I personally work with professors in the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology while my advisor is in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Biochemistry.
The support and encouragement I receive from my advisor, peers and professors, makes the pursuit of my Ph.D. one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. UTHSC and the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Biochemistry is truly a scientific community that fosters an environment filled with excitement, high intellect and success.