In the end, I chose the University of Georgia‘s PhD program in Plant Biology. This program was the best fit for me for several reasons:
First, my research objectives fit well within the program and particularly in Dr. Chris Peterson’s lab. I will be studying disturbance ecology and will have the opportunity to make connections with other departments at the University, such as Ecology and Forestry and Natural Resources. I also like that the Department of Plant Biology has rotations for new students, so I will have the opportunity to learn new skills and potentially collaborate with many faculty and students.
Another reason I chose UGA is that I was offered a Graduate School Research Assistantship (also known as a “University-wide”), which will last for 11 months and can be renewed for another 11 months. This will allow me to focus on my research during my first two years, and I will be able to receive a teaching assistantship for my last three years if needed.
The low cost of living in Athens, good food and cultural opportunities, and proximity to both Sewanee and Nashville were other factors in my decision. Athens is only ~3.5 hours from Sewanee, so I will be able to continue research with the Sewanee Herbarium and travel to Sewanee for field work if necessary.
Finally, I really loved the department and found that the faculty and graduate students were highly welcoming, open, and organized. I could picture myself as a graduate student at all of the events easily and looked forward to the role reversal.
I really look forward to becoming a graduate student at UGA and am so thankful to Sewanee and the Herbarium for preparing me for graduate school.