Grad School Advice Part 1: Picking a Lab and a Project

By Tyler Ford

Ben Vincent and Niroshi Senaratne from HarvardIn this two-part series, we sit down to talk with two senior graduate students, Ben Vincent and Niroshi Senaratne, from the Biological and Biomedical Sciences program at Harvard University to get the scoop on the ups and down of graduate student life. Senior graduate students can sometimes be elusive or have a certain mystique that makes them difficult to approach for the youngster just starting in the lab, but they are exactly the people you should talk to if ruminating the trials and tribulations of the modern PhD program. Don’t be fooled! Most senior graduate students are friendly and full of useful advice. Stay tuned for concrete advice on how to pick a lab and a project.

Listen to the interview here!

Podcast Breakdown

(Time : Topic)

0:00 - 0:28 : Niroshi and Ben describe their projects

0:28 - 1:12 : Introduction from Tyler

1:13 - 2:02 : Niroshi and Ben introduce themselves

2:03 - 3:22 : How did you end up becoming a graduate student?

4:50 - 8:00 : How did you approach doing rotations?

8:01 - 11:25 : How did you decide what lab to join?

11:25 - 11:50 : What is the number one question you think rotation students should ask senior graduate students?

11:51 - 13:28 : How do you define what a good mentor is?

13:29 - 14:31 : What drives you to do science?

14:32 - 16:07 : What do you think drives other people to do science?

16:08 - 22:04 : How have the make-up and scope of your graduate projects changed throughout grad school?

22:05 - 26:10 : What's been your biggest experimental failure?

26:11 - 31: 32 : What's been your biggest experimental success?

31:32 - end : Outro

In our next episode, Niroshi and Ben discuss how you can leverage your graduate school community to help keep you excited about coming into lab even when things get tough in the dreaded third year.

Find Part 2 Here!

We'd like to thank Niroshi and Ben for taking the time to sit down and talk to us and wish them the best of luck in life beyond graduate school.

benVincentHeadshot_TJF_2016_8_22.jpgBen J. Vincent is a Ph.D candidate in the Program in Genetics and Genomics at Harvard Medical School. He studies developmental gene regulation with Dr. Angela DePace in the Department of Systems Biology, and he tweets @benjvincent.



niroshi_TJF_2016_8_16-01.pngNiroshi Senaratne is a graduate of the PhD program in Genetics and Genomics at Harvard Medical School, and is currently a fellow in clinical genetics at the University of California, Los Angeles. She enjoys chromosome biology and reading Ben Vincent's tweets. 



Special thanks to our sound engineer/producer, Eddy Page!

Eddy_Page.jpgEdward B. Page is a Digital Media Production Specialist at Addgene. He is the audio engineer and producer for the Addgene Podcast.



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Topics: Science Careers, Podcast, Early Career Researcher

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