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Dan Piraner

Why did you apply for the Hertz Scholarship?

I applied for the Hertz Fellowship on the recommendation of my adviser, Beatriz Cisneros. I wanted an external fellowship due to the relative freedom that it would afford me in graduate school regarding research topics. Dr. Cisneros notified me about the Hertz Fellowship and I jumped on the opportunity.

What advice would you give to Purdue students thinking of applying?

One of the most important aspects of applications for both fellowships and graduate schools is to be punctual and to not procrastinate. Ask for letters of recommendation as soon as possible. It only takes a short email, and it can save you some very stressful moments close to the deadline. Also, have fun with the application and use it to develop yourself professionally. It's an extremely competitive fellowship so try to get the most out of the application process regarding both your personal statement and your interviewing skills. That way, regardless of the outcome, you come out of it with a stronger skill set than with which you entered. 

How did you get involved in undergraduate research?

I wanted to do undergraduate research at some point, but before arriving at Purdue I thought this was something to be done during junior or senior year when my scientific knowledge and background were more thorough. However, many of the professors involved in freshman biology courses insisted that we begin even earlier. I thought that one of the PIs presenting at a freshman seminar was doing interesting research, so I emailed her afterward asking to join her lab. Although I have changed labs since, my early start enabled me to get the satisfaction of seeing a protein structure solved with the data I analyzed, which was extremely helpful during my graduate school and fellowship interviews.

What are your educational and career goals?

I will be attending the Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics PhD program at Caltech next year. Afterward, I would like to work in industry on large molecule pharmaceuticals.