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Office of Graduate Education Stanford Biosciences Office of Graduate Education

Tim Stearns, PhD

Professor of Biology and Genetics

Tim Stearns, PhDI grew up on Long Island, in the vast suburbs outside of New York City. In high school, I worked first as a cook, then in a plant nursery, both experiences that fostered a nascent interest in chemistry and biology. I went to Cornell University, continuing to work as a cook to pay for college, but somewhere along the way I realized that I enjoyed working in the lab even more than the kitchen! I ended up going to graduate school at MIT, then moved out to California in 1989 for a year at Genentech, then a postdoc at UCSF, and a faculty position at Stanford, where I’ve been since 1993.

I consider research mentorship of graduate students and postdocs to be my most important role in the university. The evolution of a graduate student over the course of the Ph.D. is a critical time, during which science skills and interests are developed, along with a sense of the role one wants to play in the science community in addition to research. I believe that meeting regularly and talking through problems is essential, and also that encouraging independent thought and action near the end of the Ph.D. helps to prepare students for the next steps in a career.

As a SoLID mentor, I hope to bring my long experience with mentoring and diversity initiatives at Stanford, and nationally, to students who would like some help navigating the complex worlds of academia, research, and career development, as they intersect with personal identity and activism.

Students can email me directly at