Upcoming Senior Launch to Serve Up Advice to BBS Students

Sep. 13, 2012

Students from the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences may show up at Senior Launch for the free food and the snazzy T-shirts, but they are likely to depart with a better understanding of what to expect in their future careers.

Speaker and BBS alum Dr. Theodore Price '98 is now an associate professor of pharmacology at The University of Arizona School of Medicine.

The annual event on Sept. 26 is open to all of the school’s seniors. Along with the snacks and door prizes, students will get a chance to visit with Dean Bert Moore, as well as many other faculty members and their fellow seniors. The event is designed as an opportunity to celebrate accomplishments and plan for the future.

Students can cast their votes for the annual Seniors Choice Faculty Award until Sept. 21. The winner will be announced at Senior Launch.

Dr. Theodore Price, who graduated from BBS in 1998, will receive the Rising Star Alumni Award. He plans to offer practical advice to the crowd of aspiring professionals. After leaving UT Dallas, Price earned a PhD in pharmacology from The University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. He now is an associate professor of pharmacology at The University of Arizona School of Medicine.

The following is a sampling of the advice Price plans to offer.

Do you think today’s students will face a tougher job market coming out of school, and can you offer any encouragement?

There is no question that times are tough right now, however, I also really think that this is a time of amazing opportunity. Scientifically, we have never known more, but our challenges in terms of medicine have never been greater. While pharmaceutical and medical technology industries have been hard hit, structural changes within these industries have also created great opportunities. I can't imagine a better time to be a creative and industrious thinker coming out of higher education.

What part did UT Dallas play in your success?

My experience at UT Dallas was critical for my development as a scientist and as a professional. My training in math and physics really helped me develop an analytical mind. Then, Dr. Alice O'Toole (Aage and Margareta Moller Professor in Cognitive Science) was nice enough to see something in me and give me a chance in her lab. From there I really feel like my life completely changed. I learned several crucial things from Dr. O'Toole: how to design an experiment that tests a hypothesis, what it is like to be a professional scientist and how much fun one can have studying the brain. I also found a mentor who has never stopped supporting me.

What was special about your experience at BBS?

Nearly everything. I was a physics major for three years and, while I enjoyed it, it was quite clear that I wasn't cut out for a career in physics. When I switched over to neuroscience, it was a brand-new program, and there were four of us slated to make up the first graduating class. We were in tiny classes with amazing teachers, and I really feel like we all got a graduate education as undergrads. When I finally arrived at graduate school, all of my neuroscience classes were a breeze and I was more or less ready to go in the lab based on what I had already learned.

What experiences – outside the classroom – should ambitious students seek out?

Research! The wonderful thing about universities like UT Dallas is the world-class research that is happening all around you. Sure, you can get the basics in the classroom, but it is the research atmosphere where you really learn to push your intellectual boundaries. I have between five and 10 undergraduates in my lab at any given time, and only a few of them ultimately want to do research as a career. But they all see the value of working in a research lab for their intellectual development. There is no replacement, in my mind, for developing a hypothesis and testing it yourself. It brings you a whole new level of intellectual satisfaction that I think is mostly unachievable in the classroom.

Senior Launch is scheduled for Sept. 26 from 4-6 p.m. in the McDermott Suite of the Eugene McDermott Library. For more information about the event and to RSVP, visit the BBS website.


Media Contact: Emily Martinez, UT Dallas, (214) 905-3049, emily.martinez@utdallas.edu
or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, newscenter@utdallas.edu
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