Potential 2020 stem cell graduate students visit before campus shuts

Updated May 6, 2020

In early March, before coronavirus precautions shut down Stanford, 13 impressive students came to campus see if they might be the right fit for the Stanford Graduate Program in Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine (SCBRM). This year, 510 students applied to the SCBRM graduate program, making it one of the most popular among the 14 bioscience PhD programs at the Stanford School of Medicine. Applications from these hundreds of students were evaluated and sorted until 13 finalists were chosen to visit Stanford. Ultimately, six of these students will accept a space in next year’s SCBRM program.

This year’s finalists were very impressive, said Marius Wernig, co-director of the Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine and director of the SCBRM graduate program. “We are very excited about this pool of students,” said Wernig. “Many have initiated intensive research projects already and have been the main leaders of these projects, which is really unusual for college students.”

“They are very accomplished young scientists with diverse backgrounds. Based on their previous accomplishments and what their mentors told us, we would be absolutely thrilled to welcome any of the finalists to Stanford,” Wernig added. “We only wish we had more than six slots to fill.”

During their multi-day visit to campus, the students were interviewed by institute faculty members, made presentations about their work, had dinners with faculty. Because of the coronavirus scares, social events and the poster session was cancelled (at that point, Stanford was recommending that events with over 150 people be cancelled). But students were still able to highlight their work to all the faculty with Lighting Talks, a tradition that started last year. 

“Lightning Talks are kind of like speed dating, in both directions,” said Wernig. “Each prospective graduate student speaks for five minutes about their work to the faculty and takes questions, and then each faculty member talks about their own work to the prospective students and takes questions.”

Six students have now accepted offers within the program for this fall.