Working at a lab bench

Student Perspective: Henny Bennett

Henny Bennett

Cancer Biology
Lab: Dr. Karlene Cimprich

Why did you choose the Biosciences PhD programs at Stanford University?

I chose the Stanford Biosciences program for my PhD based on the scope and diversity of the research opportunities with the faculty here and also for its strong culture of collaboration.

Describe your research.

I study how the DNA damage response regulates the ability of cells to collectively organize into tissue structures.

What do you like about living in the Bay Area?

My favorite thing about the Bay Area is that it is so easy to get outdoors. The weather is always fantastic. I bike everywhere. There's a lot to do on campus, but we also have easy access to hiking trails in the foothills; we are just a short drive from the beach, redwoods, San Francisco, and wine country; and places like Tahoe and Yosemite are close enough for a weekend adventure.

Do you have any advice to share with prospective students?

During my Stanford interview I remember thinking that the current students looked genuinely happy, and many of them had activities that they pursued outside of lab. One of my main priorities when deciding where to do my PhD was to go somewhere where I could maintain a healthy work-life balance. Now that I'm here, I probably epitomize this. When I finish in lab for the day I hardly ever go straight home without first going running, rock-climbing, or dancing.

What advice would you give an incoming student about choosing her or his thesis lab?

One of the more important factors when choosing a thesis lab should be the mentoring relationship with the PI. Every PI will have a unique mentoring style, just as every student has different mentorship needs. Use your past experience and rotations to evaluate both your needs and what your prospective PI will provide. The science is important, too, but one can never really predict where a given research project will lead, and especially whether it will be successful. Your PI, however, should be relatively constant throughout your PhD.

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