Pritzker Molecular Engineering welcomes new cohort of students

The Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering (PME) and the University of Chicago are marking the beginning of the 2023-2024 academic year, welcoming the largest class of PhD and Master’s students in PME's history. PME became a full-fledged school in 2019.

The school’s newest graduate class consists of 67 PhD students, including ten enrolled in the Quantum Science and Engineering program, and 24 students in the Master of Engineering program. The students hail from 17 different countries and represent more than 20 different disciplinary backgrounds.

Dean of PME Matthew Tirrell welcomed the newest cohort of graduate students, encouraging new students to take advantage of PME’s non-traditional structure and explore their options amongst the laboratories. Tirrell steps down as PME’s founding dean on September 30. 

“We recruited each and every one of you enthusiastically,” Tirrell shared in a morning address on the first day of orientation. “The experience we expect you to have here is unlike any you would have in a traditional department. We’ve picked research areas where we can be internationally competitive on our own terms.”

Nadya Mason, who will step into the role of dean on Oct. 1, welcomed the new students at a lunch with students and PME faculty.

“In my first few years, I promise to build on the excellent foundations of research and education at PME, while increasing our engagement with other aspects of our mission, such as entrepreneurship and community engagement. And I want you all to do the same,” said Mason.

Orientation week, held September 18-22, offered students several opportunities to visit with faculty, meet peers, and explore the UChicago campus. Students learned about ongoing research, explored extracurricular opportunities, and attended faculty-led match talks, determining which labs they will join.

Nadya Mason at podium
Nadya Mason addresses the PME community. (Photo by Nancy Wong)

In addition to classroom and research activities, PME offers numerous options for students interested in applying their expertise to broader fields, including private industry, community fostering, and policy advocacy. These include programs offered through the Harris School of Public Policythe Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and the Argonne National Laboratory.   

Students also attended the University of Chicago’s campus-wide orientation ceremony on September 19. University President Paul Alivisatos reflected on the diversity of experiences and intellectual dynamism that incoming graduate students bring to the University community. He also emphasized the importance of critical rigor, open inquiry, and free expression in graduate students’ mission to arrive at pioneering insights in their various fields during their time at UChicago.

“As students, you will embark on an effort to extend the forefront of knowledge and practice in your fields,” said Alivisatos. “Engage in debates, challenge your beliefs, and most importantly, stay curious.”