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Vital Signs

Ph.D. and master's students chart myriad paths to grad school

By Roger P. Smith, Ph.D.

The science underlying medicine and the policy surrounding its practice are the focus of study for 147 new students in assorted doctoral and master's-degree programs at Dartmouth Medical School.

The newest of DMS's two interdepartmental basic science Ph.D. programs, in experimental and molecular medicine, admitted nine new students. One of them is already very familiar with DMS. Jennifer Davey majored in biology at the University of Vermont, earned a master's degree there, then taught highschool science for five years. She moved to the Upper Valley in 1988 and tried working at a biotech company but found it not her cup of tea, so she took a job as a lab technician at DMS. She became hooked on research and eventually decided to pursue her doctorate. Her route to this point was indirect, but she's excited about what lies ahead.

Twist: The other basic science program,

in molecular and cellular biology, admitted 30 new students, including William McNitt. He majored in biology at Reed College and, taking a path as straight as Davey's was circuitous, applied to Ph.D. programs during his senior year. But theremay be a twist in his future: After he arrived at Dartmouth, he learned of the M.D.-Ph.D. option. Medical school had never been on his radar before, but he's now applying to the dual-degree program in the hope that it will facilitate his ability to do clinical research. That will mean aminimumof nine years as a student, but he still has a smile on his face.

Policy: In addition, 108 students entered various programs of the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice (formerly the Center for the Evaluative Clinical Sciences); 27 are seeking an M.S. in health policy, 63 a master's of public health, and 18 a Ph.D.

Matthew H. Davis entered the M.P.H. program to build on his long-time interest in the environment. He had an

appreciation for nature from an early age and spent several summers working for the National Park Service and National Forest Service. After majoring in biology at Swarthmore, he worked for two years for the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, a consumer advocacy nonprofit, before founding Environment Maine, a similar organization focused on the environment. He then took a job overseeing environmental advocacy organizations in five states for Environment America.

True: When his wife's work brought him to the Upper Valley, Davis decided—with the help of a Switzer Environmental Fellowship, a prestigious award for early-career environmental leaders—to pursue an M.P.H. at Dartmouth. He plans to apply it by working on environmental health policy at a federal agency or a nonprofit organization.

Assuming his career course holds true, that is.

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