John LisleHistory of Science Doctoral Student
John Lisle

The IE experience is important to both undergraduate and graduate students. Since I'm pursuing a degree in a particularly narrow field, the history of science, I felt it was especially important and encouraging to meet another student with similar interests. Importantly, I knew that because we shared these interests there would be a lot of my own experience to share that would directly apply to my undergraduate's future: the application process, graduate classes, etc.

Experience, especially new experience, is something I wanted to stress. This served both to introduce my undergraduate to necessary skills as well as sharpen my own. For instance, one of the most helpful meetings we had occurred at the Ransom Center on campus. The exposure to an archive, how to obtain primary documents, and how to hand them is important for a graduate career. The wow-factor itself was worth going because by the time we were done I was holding Albert Einstein's original letters while he combed through some by Thomas Jefferson.

The other important experience we both enjoyed was attending a conference in Houston. The lecture itself was interesting (why it took Darwin so long to publish The Origin) but seeing how a conference works, how a speaker engages the audience, how to ask informed questions, and how to introduce oneself to other students and faculty was equally informative. If not for a friend to play some pool with, get a bite to eat occasionally, and talk about Newton (I did say I study the history of science, right?), the IE program enabled both of us to acquire valuable experience.