Travis Nielsen, PhD ’18, joined the PIBBS program in May 2016 while working in the lab of Brad Spellberg, MD, in the Medical Biology PhD program. He chose USC because he wanted to work with Spellberg, who was also a part of the PIBBS program. Travis enjoys science, especially scientific research, because of the mental challenge involved in solving tough problems and the benefits that research bestows on human health. After completing his PhD, Travis decided to obtain his MPH and MD. Travis is currently enrolled at Loyola University of Chicago.
The PIBBS program prepared him for life after obtaining his PhD by helping him master the scientific method and hypothesis testing. The PIBBS program also helped to ensure that he had a plan for after he completed his degree. The importance of having goals and developing road maps to achieve those goals was one of the most important takeaways for Travis during his time at USC. He advises all students to avoid becoming another grad student horror story by having a plan. During his time at USC, he volunteered as an executive board member of the School of Medicine Graduate Student Association (SMGSA). He also gave back to the community by helping to establish a student organization called Health Science Mentors, which provides guidance to foster youth, abused children and those held in custody in juvenile hall. As a graduate student, he managed stress by commiserating with other students and exercising. Travis also made sure to set aside time for self-care away from class or lab responsibilities. He received the PhD Achievement Award in 2018.
In five years, he will be starting his residency in internal medicine. After that, he plans to do a dual fellowship in infectious diseases and critical care. He then intends to apply for a National Institutes of Health Career Development Award to assist in his ultimate goal of having an independent academic research lab. Travis is grateful for the guidance he received from his principal investigator and the PIBBS department.