On May 19, 2023, the Skaggs Graduate School of Chemical and Biological Sciences awarded doctoral degrees to 41 graduate students, many of whom studied specific disease targets and complex health problems, such as cancer, HIV, autism, stroke, antibiotic resistance and addiction. As the 2023 class forges ahead with their scientific careers, the new graduates share pearls of wisdom and gratitude from their time at Scripps Research.

botero valentina

“Reflecting on my graduate school experience at Scripps Research, I am deeply appreciative of the invaluable mentorship and guidance I received from my thesis advisor, Seth Tomchik, whose support was pivotal in helping me develop into a confident and skilled researcher. Additionally, I was fortunate to be part of a vibrant and supportive community that was united by a passion for intellectual curiosity and innovation.” 

– Valentina Botero | Tomchik Laboratory

“Scientific judgment is built not by accumulation of knowledge or ideas, but by the experience of testing ideas through myriad failures. Scripps Research provided me with the resources and freedom to explore bold ideas and fail, serving as a crucible to refine my scientific judgment into one of my greatest professional assets.” 

– Tucker Huffman | Shenvi Laboratory ARCS Scholar

valentine courouble

“My favorite aspect of being a Scripps Research graduate student was having the ability to conduct highly collaborative and interdisciplinary research. The support I received from my advisor, lab mates and friends, both in and out of the lab, was instrumental to my success.” 

– Valentine Courouble | Griffin Laboratory
Richard & Helen DeVos Graduate Fellow

taeho kang

“The successful completion of my PhD wouldn’t have been possible without my Engle lab family, who provided the perfect atmosphere for my research and graduate school experience.” 

– Taeho Kang | Engle Laboratory  

lara ibrahim

“A highlight of my graduate school experience was the collaborative spirit of Scripps Research. Thank you to the many wonderful scientists who make it a fun and supportive environment to answer exciting scientific questions!”

– Lara Ibrahim | Wiseman and Bollong Laboratories
Kellogg Fellow 

maximilian palkowitz

“My experience in graduate school would be nothing without those who were there to share both successes and failures with me. Without my mentors, teammates and friends, the highs would not have been so high and the lows would have been much lower. Scripps Research is such a unique place to foster these lifelong friendships through pursuing cutting-edge science!” 

– Maximilian Palkowitz | Baran Laboratory
The Richard and Nicola Lerner Endowed Fellow for the Skaggs Graduate School of Chemical and Biological Sciences

A top-ten reputation 

Since its founding in 1989, the Skaggs Graduate School has consistently been ranked as one of the top ten graduate programs in the country by U.S. News and World Report. The 2023 report, which came out in April, ranks the graduate school as second in organic chemistry, fourth in biochemistry, seventh in chemistry and ninth in biological sciences.

sarah mosure

“Looking back on my time at Scripps Research, I am most grateful for the opportunity to carry out a co-mentored project spanning two diverse disciplines—immunology and structural biology. This unique experience equipped me with a versatile skillset that I likely could not have acquired at any other institute.” 

– Sarah Mosure | Kojetin and Solt Laboratories
Richard & Helen DeVos Graduate Fellow, Scripps Florida 

melissa parker

“I greatly enjoyed the opportunities to build relationships and engage with our local communities in southern Florida and Southern California through science outreach events. I am grateful to have been surrounded by such supportive and science-driven peers and mentors.” 

– Melissa Parker | Karbstein Laboratory
Frank J. Dixon Graduate Fellow

jessica rosarda

“I am so deeply grateful for the support and encouragement that my advisor, Luke Wiseman, and so many other faculty at Scripps Research have given me throughout the years. It is hard to argue with people that I know are smarter than me. I have to believe them when they tell me that I am good at what I do. Thank you all for your kind words and good advice!” 

– Jessica Rosarda | Wiseman Laboratory
ARCS Scholar; Baxter Foundation Fellow

kokila shankar

“What drew me to Scripps Research is the same as what has gotten me through graduate school—the community of graduate students. It truly takes a village to succeed in getting a PhD, and I couldn’t have asked for a better network of peers to shape my experience inside and outside of the lab.” 

– Kokila Shankar | George Laboratory
Kellogg Fellow

blessy suresh

“Looking back on my time in graduate school, I appreciate how the do-it-yourself approach of the McHeyzer-Williams group enabled our lab to develop a bespoke approach to single-cell genomics, which we applied to uncover lots of interesting germinal center immunology. I also appreciate all the really fantastic people I met along the way and how close Scripps Research is to some solid surf breaks.” 

Blessy Suresh | Disney Laboratory

zhuo yang

“My success in graduate school wouldn’t have been possible without support from my advisor Richard Lerner. He has given me more support and guidance than I could ever ask for. My experience with him has shaped my scientific career as well as who I am as a person.”

– Zhuo Yang | Lerner and Wu Laboratories