Why NGG? (Thoughts from Current Students)

“When I was deciding where to go to grad school, every morning I would wake up and feel that I wanted to go to a different school. For one week straight, every morning I wanted to go to Penn NGG, and then I had my answer. I was confident I would find a faculty member to work with at Penn, though I only knew what one of my rotations would be at that time. The research here is phenomenal and the environment is supportive and collaborative. What sets NGG apart is the students, who are friendly, passionate about neuroscience and community outreach, and seek a life outside of lab. The program is constantly evolving, trying to better serve the students and our needs. The executive committee and coordinator are extremely of and encourage community outreach. I came to Penn with the idea — hey, wouldn’t it be cool if we put on a neuroscience public lecture. This idea quickly became a reality and over 300 people have attended the two lectures we’ve had thus far. Seeing this vision become a reality has been extremely rewarding and is a testament to the amazingly supportive environment in NGG.” – David Reiner, 4th year

“I chose NGG for many reasons, but the three big ones were the top-notch scientific training available at Penn, the supportive environment, and the chance to be involved in community outreach. Not only are there literally hundreds of labs in every possible area of neuroscience to choose from as a grad student here, but also every student gets to benefit from this diversity: in Core classes literally every single lecture is given by an expert in the field, and Penn draws a massive variety of visiting speakers and seminars. That really appealed to me as someone interested in having a broad understanding of my field. Second, I feel like everyone associated with the program, from PIs to administrators to my fellow grad students, is motivated to support students. This has been especially remarkable now, as a second-year preparing for my candidacy exam. Our program put together a 10-week course to help us all prepare; it’s the opposite of sink-or-swim. Third, I have the time and opportunity to regularly volunteer in science outreach outside of lab, and it’s been an incredibly fulfilling part of my time here. I think that engagement with the public is a major scientific responsibility, and at Penn not only do they agree with that statement, they actually walk the walk.” – Hannah Shoenhard, 2nd year

“I think it is safe to say that everyone in NGG really enjoys being here. The students and faculty are excited and enthusiastic about their research, and there are so many opportunities for everyone to be exposed to neuroscience topics outside their area of interest. What I personally enjoy most about NGG is amount of activities in place outside the scope of lab work. Whether it is reaching out to the community, attending a professional workshop, or even a weekly dinner or a happy hour, students enjoy hanging out, and although everyone has such a range of interests, it is easy for people to get along and participate in the wide variety of events offered throughout the year!” – Trish Parthasarathi, 4th year

“One word: homeyness. It started from the day of recruitment when I met NGG with its welcoming faculty and students (I remember Jesse with his excitement and upbeat personality which he still manages to have in his 6th year!) for the first time. It was love at first sight for me. It’s hard to believe it’s been almost four years but I still feel the same way and still get VERY excited with each recruitment because now I can pass along to others how NGG has been (and still is) such an important part of my life and how it will be for all the new students. It’s because there is something for you regardless of who you are!” – Ceren Ozek, ’15 alum

“One of the reasons I really love Penn is that they like having larger classes and getting people from really diverse backgrounds. They want computational, molecular, e. phys, and behavior people all to be represented in each cohort – the idea being that you have all areas represented for class discussions and a sort of built network of people when you graduate. There’s always someone I can go to when I have questions outside my field. Also, GLIA is a huge deal and one of my favorite things about NGG. We were recognized by SfN as the graduate group of the year in large part because of GLIA. Community outreach is a huge emphasis, and that was really appealing to me. NGG as a group is rather self-selecting in that we work really hard, but we very much believe in having lives outside of grad school. Neuroscience is a surprisingly cutthroat field, but Penn and NGG try to minimize that as much as possible. Plus the coordinators are wonderful, really. They view their job purely as a support system to help us in any way they can – there’s no attempt to trip up or fail anyone. – Julia Kahn, 4th year