Finding the right program is not just about being admitted to a program. You will want to make sure that you will have a happy and successful graduate school experience that will provide you with a solid foundation for your future career.
There are plenty of reputable Immunology & Microbiology PhD programs to choose from, how do you know that you’re picking the right PhD program? What do you need to look for in a program? Why should you choose M&I?
When looking for a PhD graduate program you should not only focus on the curriculum and potential thesis advisor, but you want to ensure that the university and department provide the environment needed to successfully complete your PhD. Apart from adequate equipment, well equipped core facilities, easy access to research journals and ways to interact with other students and faculty, you also want to take a look at the expertise of the faculty and training opportunities. The University of Utah offers an outstanding research environment. It has a long-standing history of research from inventing and implanting the first artificial heart, to inventing the first genetic knockout technologies. The University strongly supports and inspires innovation and is consistently ranked among the top universities not only for research, but also for start-up formations. The University also offers a terrific variety of core facilities with cutting-edge technologies and equipment available to all investigators, staff and students. Our division is dedicated to research and mentoring students. Within our division, we have 3 AAI lifetime fellows among our faculty (Peter Jensen, Brian Evavold, and Sue Ostrand-Rosenberg), students have the opportunity to apply for 3 different NIH training grants held by the Division of Microbiology and immunology and we train PhD students in obtaining F31 training grants during the course of their Graduate program.
Apart from the University, Salt Lake City is a growing hub for Life Science companies. Between 2012 and 2016, employment in Utah’s life sciences industry increased 26.2 percent, in comparison to the national average of 5.9 percent. Many diagnostic, biotech and pharmaceutical companies have facilities in Utah. One of the biggest national diagnostic companies, ARUP Laboratories, is associated with our department and offers plenty of opportunities for further training and collaboration.
PhD advisor and research project
Research in our department covers a wide range of research topics from basic immunology and microbiology to infectious diseases (including parasite, viruses and fungi research), translational research, drug development and clinical collaboration offering plenty opportunities for collaborations and gaining expertise in different areas.
You will be spending the next few years working in the lab of your choice and this will be the stepping stone to your future success. While you certainly want to choose a project that you are passionate about, you also want to pay attention to the lab and departmental environment. Traditional measurements, such as rankings and publication records will give you an idea on the overall success of a lab is, but they might be less important for your everyday happiness. The most important point is to find a PhD advisor who serves as a mentor, who is approachable, available when you have questions and dedicated to your project and your future success.
While you will spend a lot of time in the lab, it is important not to neglect your social life. You want to look for a location with easy access to the activities you enjoy and opportunities to meet other students. Salt Lake City is uniquely nestled at the base of the Wasatch Mountains, the first major range of the Rocky Mountains. The University is only 15 minutes away from the vibrant downtown where you will find plenty of bars, coffee shops, restaurants, clubs, concert venues, theaters and professional sports. Around campus and further up in the mountains there are plenty of areas for recreational activities, from individual and team sports to hiking, mountain biking, kayaking and rock climbing. And only 30 minutes' drive away are four world-class, Olympic ski resorts. You can even go skiing before coming to the lab! Salt Lake City always ranks high on work-life balance and quality of life lists. And if you get tired of Salt Lake, there are five (!) of the major US national parks in Utah and, of course, there is always the airport. Where else can you get to an international airport within 20 minutes and catch one of the 350 daily non-stop flights to almost 100 cities in North America and Europe?