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P.I. recognition in choosing an institution or lab for graduate school (or post-doctoral) research

One of my mentors once advised me that the number one predictor of becoming a Nobel prize winner is working in the lab of a nobel prize winner.  That the number one predictor of being elected to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) is working in the lab of an NAS member.  I don’t know if this is actually true (or if anyone has even studied this)–but it makes sense.  When choosing a lab for your PhD or other graduate work (or even post-doctoral research), many many many factors should be considered.  But this may be one consideration to keep in mind. 

If you are in the process of looking for a graduate school or a post-doctoral position, I wouldn’t limit your institution search by the presence of Nobel prize winners, but consider investigating prevalence of National Academy of Sciences members at the institutions you are considering:

Also consider looking at prevalence of investigators at the various institutions you are looking at who are members of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute ( (a prestigious group of recognized biomedical investigators consisting of some of the most talented scientists in the country):

That said, (I repeat) many factors go into choosing a lab or institution for graduate or post-doctoral research.  And I might add, so many other factors besides the quality of science go into election to these groups, that there are many incredibly talented investigators who are not in the NAS or HHMI but also consistently produce cutting edge, high-impact and important research.  I offer this information as just another factor to look into.

keywords: research, advisor, graduate student, post-doc, HHMI, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, National Academy of Sciences


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