Stella Hurtley

Stella Hurtley

Since the inception of the EMBL International PhD Programme (EIPP) in 1983, some 600 predocs have jump-started their careers at the lab

Stella Hurtley, Editor of Science magazine and one of the EMBL PhD class of ‘83, talks about what attracted her to the programme and how her stay at EMBL impacted her career.

“I read about the EMBL PhD course on a noticeboard in the Cambridge Biochemistry Department. The offer of a trip to Heidelberg seemed too good to miss. When I got there, I realised EMBL was a place where some of the best science in the world was under way. I had already developed a keen interest in cell biology, particularly in membrane traffic, and fell in intellectual love with Graham Warren (group leader in the Cell Biology and Biophysics Unit between 1977 and 1985).

“Nowhere I’ve worked since has been as integrated and exciting, and so dedicated to every one doing their best in science with no significant worries about funding. The excitement and commitment of the group leaders and postdocs was inspiring, the number of international visitors wonderful, and the courses great!

“Finally, through EMBL alumna Carol Featherstone, I took a sideways step to become an Editor for Science magazine, having pursued my career behind the bench at Yale, Philadelphia and Edinburgh post EMBL.

“I still interact regularly with many of the people I met at and through EMBL, via EMBL&cetera and at meetings. I’ve also seen some of my class of ‘83 over the years, and on occasion handled their papers!

“My job now provides me with all the intellectual stimulation I loved about being at EMBL, without the technical frustrations or funding worries. There are other frustrations though, like having to reject more than 90 per cent of the papers I handle. However, the ability to contribute in some small way to the advancement of science in so many fields is a real honour and a pleasure every day.

“My advice to new PhD students is to follow your passions – science is too difficult to do stuff you don’t find truly interesting!”

Helke Hillebrand

““It’s truly fascinating to look at these three decades of growth and development of the EMBL International PhD Programme and its several hundred successful alumni. To me it means joy and responsibility at the same time. Based on its tradition and accomplishments the EIPP has an outstanding track record as a role model for Graduate Education across Europe. This extraordinary legacy provides an infinite source of inspiration as we strive to ensure that current and future generations of PhD students can productively explore and contribute to scientific research, and build their own careers on a head start at EMBL.”
Helke Hillebrand, Dean of Graduate Studies, EIPP

Predoc class of ´83