Graduate School of Medical Sciences
A partnership with the Sloan Kettering Institute

Raphael Bendriem

Why did you decide to attend Weill Cornell for your graduate school education? 

In the end, it came down to three factors: New York City, the innovative research and, most importantly, the students. New York City is a “young” city - in my mind, there was no better time to live there than in my twenties and thirties. As for the research, Weill Cornell Graduate School has so many reputable and talented faculty members studying neurodevelopment (my primary research interest). Finally, I felt very welcomed and at ease with the students during recruitment, which played a big role in my decision to attend Weill Cornell.

What is your favorite aspect of Weill Cornell’s:

Academic programs?
Weill Cornell Graduate School consists of several “umbrella” programs that attract graduate students and faculty members of very different scientific backgrounds. This in turn facilitates collaborations on multidisciplinary projects, which are becoming more and more common in translational research.

Faculty members?
They are approachable and supportive. I feel comfortable dropping by their lab to ask for advice, lab-related or not. 

Student life?
The students, of course! Weill Cornell seems to attract intelligent, motivated students that are also down-to-earth and know how to let loose and have a good time.

Walk us through a typical day as a student at Weill Cornell.

This question made me laugh as there are no “regular” days! But this is another aspect of graduate school that I really enjoy - each day in the lab is unpredictable.

However, there are recurring patterns:

-I (attempt to) wake up early and exercise in the Olin gym on a daily basis...I tend to be more relaxed and happier the rest of the day if I’m able to exercise before work.  

-I’m in lab between 9-10 a.m. and often start my day by checking on my mice colonies, changing cell media and troubleshooting the previous day’s experiments.

-I take a quick break during lunchtime and walk the five steps from the Belfer Research Building to my apartment in Lasdon House to make lunch.

-In the afternoons, I often have GSEC-related (Graduate Student Executive Committee) meetings or research seminars to attend.

-I spend the rest of my time running (and rerunning) assays, reading journal articles, etc...

Throughout the day, I am constantly checking and answering emails. I’m also constantly listening to music (lately…’90s and indie rock), which helps keep me focused and upbeat.

Have you had any experiences that confirmed Weill Cornell was the best place for your graduate studies? 

Yes, quite a few actually. One example that stands out is our annual Neuroscience retreat to New Jersey. Every year in March, the Neuroscience graduate program rents out a bed & breakfast at the Jersey shore for the weekend where students and faculty present their research, relax and have quality bonding time. In the evenings, the students and faculty form teams and play games (charades, etc.) - it gets competitive very quickly. I really enjoy getting to see a different side of the faculty after each retreat.

What do you feel sets Weill Cornell apart from other institutions? 

Though I have nothing with which to compare my experience at Weill, I would be very surprised if administrators at other institutions were as receptive to the needs of students as they are here at Weill, particularly in recent months. I work with several of our administrators on a weekly basis to address various issues affecting our student body. It’s evident from our interactions that they genuinely care about the students’ academic success, well-being and happiness. (Oh, and subsidized housing and free student social hours twice a week are pretty great additions). 

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