Ben Stengel, PhD
Why did you choose to come to MCW?
I chose to come to MCW for the research. I was thoroughly impressed on my interview day with all of the possible pathways with which to pursue my degree. I was searching for a way to combine my Biology and Physics background and MCW seemed like the best fit to do just that. In addition to that, I enjoyed the atmosphere amongst the faculty here. All in all, it seemed like a great fit.
Comment on life in Wauwatosa or Milwaukee.
As a grad student that dedicated so much time in the lab, life outside of the lab is very important to me. There is a wealth of things to do in the area, when I do get the opportunity to enjoy them. The lake is a beautiful place to explore, especially in the summer time. There are several really nice museums. The zoo is quite good and provides a feeling of being secluded from the bustle of daily life. Brewers' games are also a blast. I have been very impressed with the beauty of Milwaukee as a city. There are a ton of parks and lots of vegetation which is not normal for a typical large city.
What lab rotations or mentors have especially inspired you?
My time spent in the Rao lab was extremely useful as a crash course in studying fMRI data. Dr. Steve Rao was very engaging and provided many resources to help me learn and grow as a scientist. I, ultimately, chose Dr. Binder's laboratory. While being in high demand at the clinics, Dr. Binder took time out of his schedule to help me grow more. The lab is a great environment for a young researcher because of the number of PhD's that associate with Dr. Binder in the lab. There is a wealth of information at my disposal in times when I am unable to find the answer on my own.
What type of networking opportunities have you had within your department, school and discipline?
The Functional Imaging Research Center hosts two courses each calendar year. I have been able to help teach in both thus far and will continue to teach in the years to come. These courses bring in several big names within MRI from all over the country, specifically the NIH. I have currently been fortunate enough to meet and have discussions with several of the leading men in field thanks to my lab.
What are your plans after graduation?
I am starting a postdoctoral fellowship here at the Medical College of Wisconsin.
What advice would you give to a prospective student or first-year about the MCW experience?
I would recommend to take full advantage of your rotations and do not be set on what specific research project you want to work on in advance. I chose my mentor based on our personality match and his way of teaching me. I thought I wanted to go more into a neuropharmacology laboratory; however, the mentorship I have received thus far has been far worth it. I would rather have great mentorship with a good project than a great project with ok mentorship.