Tell us about yourself. How did you come to Tulane?
I came from the Pacific Northwest, where most people have never heard of Tulane. I was looking for something different than what I grew up with, since I wanted to use my college years to expand my experiences and try something new. I definitely got that!
Doctor of Philosophy, Biological Anthropology anticipated
New York University, New York City, NY
What do you do?
My main duty is to become a better student and researcher – through taking classes both within and outside my discipline, attending conferences, reading primary literature, and most importantly conducting my own research. I also TA for undergraduate classes, which helps me better understand the basics of my field.
What are some of the pros of your current position or role?
I get to meet amazing people who are doing fantastic research!
Some of the cons?
Since I am always on the move, sometimes it seems like there is never time to rest.
What did you study at Tulane?
I earned dual degrees in Anthropology (BA) and Ecology & Evolutionary Biology (BS).
What insights did you have as a college student?
Majoring in what I enjoy is much more important than studying something where I think I could get a job immediately after graduation. Though my friends who studied Business will always make more money than I will, I'm happier this way.
What academic advice would you offer incoming students?
If there is an advanced class that you really want to take, e-mail the professor even if you don't have all of the official prerequisites. Sometimes the prerequisites aren't really required, and by taking the classes you really want you will have a much more enjoyable academic experience.
Discuss a class that had a significant impact on you.
As a freshman, I took a graduate Biological Anthropology course with Dr. Holliday entitled The Neanderthal Enigma. While I don't necessarily use all of the specific information every day, this class taught me that advanced classes aren't scary – they're fun.
Do you have any other recommendations?
If you have a fun opportunity, take it. When I asked my current professors why I got into grad school, it was because I had really good recommendations (I made friends with professors), had field work experience (from working regularly in Dr. Bart's Ichthyology Lab in the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology), and had a wide variety of coursework under my belt (in addition to basic Biology courses I also took Computer Science and other non-required courses).
What do you wish you had known as a first-semester freshman?
I wish I would have known that you can take more than just 1000-level courses. Just ask the professor! For many courses, you don't even need professor permission to take; and you need more 3000-level and above credits for graduation.
LinkedIn: Laura Matthews
Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 504-865-4000 firstname.lastname@example.org