NYU students are well-known not just for being bold but also for turning their ambitions into lifelong pursuits. In these interviews, learn how Isabel Baker ’16 and Frank Swann ’15 accomplished their goals with help from their NYU network.
From Biology Major to Harvard PhD Candidate
For Isabel (Izzy) Baker (CAS, BA/MS, 2016) it’s the little things that matter. Specifically, studying microbes that live at hydrothermal vents. Izzy is currently a PhD candidate in Harvard’s organismic and evolutionary biology department. Her research explores how certain bacteria change the chemistry of their environment and their potential role in the rise of oxygen millions of years ago. The bacteria are also candidates for studying alternative energy.
What prepared Izzy for her research most was the rigorous scientific community at NYU. “My work as an undergrad biology student—from lab research in developmental genetics to anthropology courses on health and disease—was quite challenging. A lot of the material I learned at CAS most people don’t encounter until they’re a senior graduate student,” Izzy says. But the exposure NYU gave her is what made a career in research such an obvious choice. “My professors pushed their students to be curious, open-minded thinkers who embrace creativity. They gave me the chance to really think like a scientist, and now I plan to be one.”
From Student Producer to Broadway Production Manager
In high school, Frank Swann (Tisch, BFA, 2015) was a singer and an actor. When he got a taste of drama backstage—lighting, sound, & sets—he decided to explore that world at NYU. In addition to his core classes, Frank and his classmates produced two large-scale musicals through Student Works. His professors, including three Tony nominees, also played a vital role in his postgraduate career success. In fact, Frank says, “I ended up getting my current job at Hudson Scenic Studio—where I’ve worked on Hamilton, A Bronx Tale, and many other productions—through an internship I had with one of my professors.”
What advice would he give prospective theatre production students? “I encourage anyone going down this road to be as well-balanced in all areas of theatre and the arts as possible. While your core classes are important, it’s up to you to pursue what drives you as a creator, innovator, and artist. And try to relish every opportunity to see shows. You’re studying in the greatest city in the world. Don’t take it for granted.”