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Will Borschel

Will Borschel’s mentor encourages him to formulate his own experiments.

How do you turn an academic exercise into a $70,000 grant?

Ask Will Borschel.

When he finished the research proposal required of all PhD candidates in biochemistry, he submitted it to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders.

Six months later, he was awarded the grant.

Borschel credits his thesis committee with guiding him through the application process. “They helped me formulate ideas, and some wrote letters of recommendation,” he says. “They weren’t just there for me when it was time to meet—they were always there for me.”

Strong departmental support is one reason Borschel chose UB’s biochemistry program.

“The department is so well structured, and the faculty take such good care of their students,” he says. “There are always activities going on: research days, leaders in our field coming to speak, opportunities to present our data. We’re very involved.”

Borschel is grateful for the support of his mentor, assistant professor of biochemistry Gabriela Popescu, PhD.

“Gabriela lets me take routes I want to explore,” he says. “Sometimes she encourages me to try different approaches, but she lets me develop my interests.”

Popescu describes UB’s biochemistry department as a “nurturing, safe environment.”

“Our students know that faculty are here to help them advance their research and keep them on track to graduate. We’re very supportive of students presenting their research in the department and at national meetings.”

At one such meeting, Borschel discussed his data with researchers he’d cited on his poster. “It was a little intimidating at first,” he admits, “but it was exciting to get an outside perspective, and it inspired me in my research.”