Joshua E. Burda

How does your Mayo Graduate School education compare with previous education that you have received at other institutions?
Having attended a large state school for my undergraduate education, I really appreciate the small class size and personal attention offered by Mayo Graduate School (MGS) instructors. MGS really identifies with the fact that students are coming into the program with very different backgrounds and thereby offers a strong core curriculum that assures that all students receive practical, conceptual and technical knowledge that can be carried forward into their thesis research.

In my experience, many university instructors fill a teaching role as a job requirement, which often translates to a less than enthusiastic presence in the classroom. At MGS, instructors hold their positions by choice and you can tell they really want to be there, fostering discussion and teaching.

What opportunities have you been introduced to since being at Mayo Graduate School?
As an MGS student, I have full access to so many amazing core research facilities, which give me a chance to implement diverse techniques into my thesis work, including cutting-edge live cell imaging and microscopy, high-throughput genome sequencing, transgenics, electron microscopy, flow cytometry and tissue processing. Importantly, these facilities have teams of specialists with skills and time to teach me the techniques I need to use for my research. Mayo Graduate School also offers a number of career and professional development workshops and symposia. I've received training in grant and manuscript writing, as well as public speaking and data presentation, just to name a few. I am really confident that the training I am receiving will prepare me for a career as an independent investigator.

Why did you choose Mayo Graduate School?
I chose Mayo Graduate School for my Ph.D. training and research because of its world-renowned reputation for carrying out cutting-edge basic and disease-driven neurobiology research that is directly invested in translation to the clinic. In order to optimize the impact of disease-driven research, the lines of communication between investigators and clinicians must be clear and robust. Mayo Clinic excels at this and has a unique environment that fosters collaboration between the laboratory and clinic, subsequently refining the focus of biomedical research devoted to reducing the burden of disease.

How would you describe the atmosphere of Mayo Clinic?
Mayo is an amazingly diverse place to work with experts in everything from chemistry and neurosurgery to animal care and nuclear magnetic resonance. Having such incredibly skilled individuals around gives me a chance to gain insight from people completely outside my own field or to get involved in and learn about things I would not otherwise have the chance to.

What are your plans for the future?
I plan to continue my doctoral training, which will fundamentally contribute to my overall career goal of becoming an independent biomedical investigator. Following my Ph.D. training at Mayo Graduate School, I intend to pursue postdoctoral training in the field of disease-focused neurobiology, with a focus on the role of glial cell function in neurological disease. I am confident that academic and technical training will prepare me sufficiently to reach my goal of becoming an independent investigator at a world-class academic medical institution, where I may carry out my own research while also spending a portion of my time teaching students at the graduate level.

If you could describe Mayo Clinic in one word, what would it be?
Opportunity.

With what activities are you involved in Rochester?
I am active in many of the intermural sports teams in Rochester, which offer a great chance to get out of the lab and hangout with other graduate students and others from the community. I am also a mentor in a youth development program called Bolder Options, a program focused on developing and maintaining a healthy lifestyle from youth into adulthood. This has been a really rewarding experience for me. The trail system throughout Rochester and the surrounding cities is also quite impressive, so I like to get on my bike and head out for a good ride as much as possible.

How does Rochester differ from your hometown? College community?
Rochester is a very progressive city with all the convenience I had become accustomed to growing up in a Detroit suburb. Like most MGS students, I live within several miles of the campus, and I'm also close to great grocery stores, a mall, movie theaters and restaurants. I enjoy commuting by bike as much as possible, and Rochester has done a pretty good job of making major routes bike-friendly. While I have outgrown my need for a college campus feel, I do appreciate going out with friends on the weekends. Thankfully Rochester has a handful of good restaurants and bars, and the Twin Cities are just an hour's drive away, which makes for a quick getaway for a change of scenery from time to time.

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