Should I Stay or Should I Go Now?

I first joined UVA as a graduate student in the Biochemistry Department of the School of Medicine. While pursuing my PhD, it was easy to love UVA and Charlottesville. The strength of the research community at the University made my PhD training both challenging and fun, while the quality of life in Charlottesville offered the perfect combination of the small town attitude and big culture with impressive diversity.

The excellence of the graduate program prepared me well for postdoctoral training, which I pursued at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, CA. For these reasons, when my husband was evaluating an opportunity to join UVA as a faculty member, we both embraced the idea of coming back to Charlottesville. For him, the choice was easy, as the University offers competitive recruitment packages and engaging and vibrant collaborative spirit among faculty from various disciplines. My decision was a more measured one - I knew I loved the University and the city of Charlottesville (in addition to loving my husband and wanting to support him during this exciting time in his career!), but moving would mean "changing gears" during my postdoctoral training.

Fortunately for both of us, I was able to transfer my postdoctoral fellowship funds to UVA and join the laboratory of Dr. Kodi Ravichandran in the Department of Microbiology as a Research Scientist, where I continue to pursue the area of research I feel passionate about (arthritis and autoimmunity). In addition to all of the things we loved about UVA and Charlottesville in the past, there are many reasons to feel confident that the choice we made is indeed the right one.

UVA is consistently ranked among the top research Universities in the nation, attracting talented scientists from diverse backgrounds and providing ample opportunity for collaborative and translational research. This is reflected in the formation of several research centers, such as the Center for Cell Clearance and the Center for Brain Immunology and Glia, within the School of Medicine. The UVA Medical Center is among the top ranked hospitals in several disciplines, making access to excellent health care easy.

The quality of life in the Charlottesville area is hard to surpass - affordable housing and excellent school systems make it an attractive choice for families from all over the World, including ours.

Finally, the proximity to a variety of places for outdoor activities, including the Shenandoah National Park and the Atlantic Ocean coastline, and cultural centers such as Washington, DC and Richmond, VA, further increase the city's appeal. It is of no surprise thus that the biotechnology sector is also growing in the city and the region, with the possibility that it will further increase the number of opportunities for pursuing scientific careers in this area.

Although one can not predict what the future holds, I feel excited about the impact that coming to UVA will have on my career and family, and I am enthusiastic about contributing to the next wave of scientific discoveries at UVA.