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Biology Alumnus Thrives in Graduate School at Yale
3/12/2018

University of St. Thomas - Houston biology alumnus Christopher Anderson, now in grad school at Yale

UST Biology grad Christopher Anderson shares his successes so far, following his graduation in June 2015. Now in his second year of graduate school at Yale University, he’s excited to delve further into studying the biological and biomedical sciences.

Yale Today, the Biomedical Industry Tomorrow

At Yale, Christopher is working towards his Ph.D. in biology. Last semester he joined a lab and began work on his thesis, along with preparing for qualifying exams. He specifically enjoys the program at Yale because of the university’s learning atmosphere. Christopher said, “The collaborative environment is especially refreshing. Because my project is a close collaboration between two other labs here, it almost feels like I joined three and I love it!”

With avid interest in tissue engineering, he’s also enthusiastic about the extensive, cutting-edge resources available that are allowing him to take on an ambitious lab project. From the more common flow cytometers and confocal imaging system to innovative 3D printers and laser cutters, he has been able to delve into his project, which includes designing and 3D printing tissue to engineer a blood vessel that can produce its own force and help pump blood. His project also incorporates biomechanical assessments to shape a predictive computational model, which is all connected to the underpinning molecular biology of cells, a field he focused on at UST.

UST Paved the Way

Once at Yale, Christopher found himself already familiar with many components of the graduate subject matter, thanks to UST’s advanced and sophisticated courses. According to Christopher, “The rigor and depth of the courses I took at UST are not too far off from what I am doing now. In fact, some sections of my cell biology course here at Yale were entirely review of what I had already been taught in the cell and molecular biology courses at UST.”

Some sections of my cell biology course here at Yale were entirely review of what I had already been taught in the cell and molecular biology courses at UST.

He believes his education at UST prepared him well for taking the next steps in academia. He said, “The professors at UST took a personal interest in my development and success. They gave in-depth lectures and required us to apply that knowledge in real-world situations during labs. This made us think critically, like scientists do.” Christopher believes that this teaching methodology significantly helped him absorb the concepts behind the lecture material, preparing him fully for his graduate lab and courses.

The professors at UST took a personal interest in my development and success. They gave in-depth lectures and required us to apply that knowledge in real-world situations during labs. This made us think critically, like scientists do.

One-On-One Support and Mentorship from Transfer to Graduation

Christopher was drawn into the warm, welcoming nature of UST from the beginning. He loved the personable atmosphere and liberal arts focus, and was impressed with the engaging mentorship provided by the biology professors. A transfer student from Houston Community College, he was involved with one of UST’s collaborative research projects when he met some of the UST faculty at a research symposium hosted for HCC students. During that first meeting, he was struck by how supportive the UST faculty was and knew he wanted to be part of that family.

The UST Biology Department made it easy to transfer. They helped him smoothly make the transition and guided him towards various opportunities for career development throughout his time as an undergrad.

Today, he still maintains contact with the UST faculty and stays tuned in to goings-on, sharing in the close-knit community even from afar.

That close-knit sense of community remains one of his favorite aspects of the UST campus. Thanks to its smaller size, he remarks on how bonded you become with your classmates: “Study groups were never hard to find, especially for more difficult courses, but they were also enjoyable because just about everyone in the class was your friend. The learning environment was very nice.”

Yale and Beyond: What the Future Holds

Thanks to his preparation at UST and the incredible opportunity at Yale, Christopher’s future looks very bright. He has his sights set on academia and, once achieving his doctorate, would like to run his own lab, in addition to dedicating time to teaching and mentoring. His goal for his future lab is to spearhead projects or engage entire groups dedicated to basic science and translational projects.

Interested in both academia and the biomedical industry, Christopher also hopes to bridge his passions to structure a lab that can generate new knowledge to help drive the translational side of the field. He intends for this synergy to help produce patents that can be sold to biotech companies equipped for translation and mass production.

He stated, “I imagine this would all be done in the context of the regenerative medicine and tissue engineering fields as there is so much room for growth in those areas. I think this sort of thing will only become more commonplace as biotechnology and biopharma expands past the traditional small molecule development paradigm.”

With that kind of vision, our world will be all the better for the contribution of people like Christopher Anderson. We look forward to seeing how this UST alumnus continues to help evolve biomedical advancement in the years to come.

Want to learn more about UST’s biology degrees or other programs? Get in touch, and we’ll send you more info.

by Ashley Rzepecki