The Ph.D. Wunderkind

Emily Schleicher ’16


Penn State College of Medicine
Hershey, Pa.


I’m one of 16 people in the biomedical sciences Ph.D. program at the Penn State College of Medicine. People ask me how I feel being the youngest person in the graduate program, surrounded by scientists who already have a master’s degree or who have already worked in the pharmaceutical industry for a few years. My answer is simple: prepared.

It was intimidating at first, but I’m absolutely on the same playing field. One of the best things at Ursinus is the opportunity to not only do research, but to do it in labs with such a small student-faculty ratio. You’re able to be very independent with your research, but at the same time, you have incredible guidance. You get hands-on experience and learn many different techniques and experiments. This program actually reminds me of Ursinus because, with only 16 of us, there is very individualized attention.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but the opportunities to present my work—at conferences and the state capitol, in discussion-based classes, for my honors project—really prepared me for graduate school. There are some people in my graduate program who’ve rarely ever presented, and that’s a nerve-wracking thing. And, at more than 50 pages, writing my honors paper was practically like writing a thesis, which I’ll have to do here too.

After I select a track (I plan to do my thesis on cancer genetics), I’ll also begin work on an MBA, which was part of what drew me to this joint program. Since Ursinus is a liberal arts school, I was also able to take classes in a variety of subjects, including business and math. That experience will help me tremendously as I pursue my MBA.

My Path




Studio Art

Undergrad Passions:
  • Research on C. elegans and suppresors of thePAM-1 gene
  • Internship at GlaxoSmithKline
  • Senior Admission Fellow
  • Tour Guide
  • Study Abroad
  • Captain of Ursinus College Dance Company

Large Photo