STEM to Law: ABS Alumnus '21 Graduates Law School!

May 28, 2024

Priya Zukosky is an ABS graduate from Spring 2021. Learning that she loved the legal aspects of science through the program, she continued her education at the UA in the J.D. program at James E Rogers College of Law in the following fall, and graduated in Spring 2024. To celebrate her success, Priya has agreed to a Q&A of her experience with the ABS program and law school:

Please tell us about yourself!

My name is Priya, and I am originally from Flagstaff, Arizona. I received my Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Sciences from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, and came to Tucson for the Professional Science Master’s program. I emphasized in the Industrial Microbial Biotechnology track because the course options and research opportunities interested me. My research was with Dr. Nafees Ahmad’s immunobiology lab, where we studied the effects of environmental compounds on human coronavirus NL63. I joined Dr. Ahmad’s lab to enhance my laboratory skills and learn more about virology and immunobiology, and gained invaluable hands-on experience while researching in his lab.  

Why did you pursue a JD after the ABS-PSM program? What do you plan to do after you graduate law school?

I was always interested in the legal aspects of science and how I can use my background in science to answer various legal questions. With a science background, various career opportunities interested me. The intersection of science and law is increasingly important in fields like biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and environmental regulation. Intellectual property law, environmental law, and health law are the three areas of law that I am interested in pursuing after I graduate. Having a scientific background has allowed me to pursue specific areas of law like patent law that require a STEM degree, which is also an area of law I am interested in pursuing!

How has having a PSM helped you on your JD journey?

Having a PSM has provided various benefits while pursuing a JD. A graduate degree in science often requires rigorous analytical thinking and problem-solving skills that can transfer to the analysis of legal issues and critical thinking skills to solve these legal issues. Additionally, having experience as a graduate research assistant in a research lab has taught me patience and attention to detail, which is very important when solving complex legal problems and analyzing legal arguments. Lastly, the legal field requires intense writing skills, which I had much more experience with after completing research papers during the PSM program.  

What advice would you give for those interested in wanting to pursue a similar path?

For students interested in pursuing a JD after the PSM program or related fields, the best advice I wish I had is to consider your long-term goals! Look into certain areas of law that you can utilize your STEM background in, such as patent law, health law, or environmental law as well. Additionally, research law schools that best suit your interests! Many law schools, like the University of Arizona’s College of Law's Tech Fellowship (100% tuition scholarship + stipend), can offer scholarships to those with a technical background. Having a background in science can be a valuable asset in any area, especially in law, so stay open-minded to the opportunities a PSM can offer you!

What advice would you give to incoming ABS students in general?

I loved the ABS program, and am still friends with my classmates! I would emphasize the importance of getting to know your professors and classmates. If you have a specific area of interest, professors are always willing to help you find a research lab or internship that can allow you to pursue those interests. There are various opportunities for internships and research at the University of Arizona, and you will gain so much experience no matter what internship/research area you choose. Take the classes that truly interest you and keep in touch with your professors!