Max Staller ’08
Why did you enroll in the Integrated Science course?
I was pretty sure that I ultimately wanted to study biology, but I'd been advised to take as much math and physics as possible. I came to Princeton with the intention of seeking a quantitative supplement to traditional biology. When I read about Integrated Science, I knew it was perfect for me. I thought it would maintain the sparkle of biology while still having the rigor of physics.
What has it been like?
The program has defined my Princeton experience. It has introduced me to group of smart, fun, interesting people. It has taught me a new kind of group problem solving and collaborative learning. I think I would not have been introduced to computer science without the program.
How has the course benefited you academically, and has it made you think about plans for what to do after you graduate?
The program has made me certain about going to graduate school in the biological sciences. After that I plan to pursue a career in science research, either industrial or academic.
How do you like working with the various Integrated Science faculty?
I think their most distinguishing characteristic is their love of teaching. They are an example of great researchers taking the time and energy to be great teachers. After watching this example, I am reasonably certain that I would like to teach one day. I even spent a summer working in Professor Botstein's lab. It was phenomenal. He gave me tremendous independence in allowing me to take control of my project.
What was the project lab experience like that you do as a junior?
It was an amazing experience to be able to do cutting-edge research in a classroom setting, under the guidance of phenomenal experimentalists. The resources were unprecedented—anything we needed we could get. The amount of freedom they gave us to choose our projects was daunting. At the end we actually had some results, which is impressive for eight weeks starting from scratch.
What is it like going though the curriculum with a close cohort of students?
I could not have survived this program without my companions. Many have become my closest friends. The camaraderie is one of the best things I have taken away from the course, which has been the high point of my Princeton experience, thanks in large part to my peers.