December 20, 2018
Gabriel Vargas grew up in San José, Costa Rica. He received a Licenciatura (Bachelor’s plus professional degree) in microbiology and clinical chemistry and a Master’s degree in microbiology from the University of Costa Rica. He is now pursuing a Ph.D. in geophysical sciences with a concentration on microbiology. We interviewed him about his experiences at the University of Chicago.
Why did you choose UChicago?
UChicago was the right place to consolidate my skill-set. I could expand on the bioinformatics training that I started during my Master’s degree and work on bacterial genetics, which was a skill I was missing.
I was also excited to live in Chicago because it has lots of opportunities. I work hard and I really value being able to easily find an exciting new restaurant or something fun to do in the city when I need a break. I also appreciate the opportunity to go see concerts; many of the bands I like visit Chicago regularly.
What noteworthy academic, research, or teaching activities you have pursued while at the UChicago?
I have worked hard to establish a genetic system in environmental bacteria in order to study their metabolism and mechanisms for genetic regulation. I have also taught several classes in microbiology and geophysical sciences.
What activities do you participate in outside of the classroom?
I play soccer and I’m part of the UChicago climbing club (UROCK).
What are your plans post-UChicago?
I will look for a postdoctoral position at a competitive research institution and, after that, I would like to find a position as a professor, ideally in Costa Rica
What support have you received at UChicago?
I have been supported by my advisor and the department. Unfortunately, there are not as many options for international students to get support in the form of grants and fellowships. I also participated in teaching workshops and other programs organized by myCHOICE and UChicagoGRAD.
If you were speaking to a prospective student, what would you tell them about UChicago?
I would encourage students to consider coming to UChicago, as this is a place where I have been able to do exciting research and find many opportunities for developing a career in the sciences. Also, I have been lucky to become friends with very interesting and smart people from different parts of the world and that has been a truly enriching experience.