An English major bound for med school? There’s a thesis topic for that.

Written by
Jamie Saxon, Office of Communications
May 18, 2023

Rachel Sturley came to Princeton with a curiosity about biology and a love for literature that started, respectively, in the tide pools of coastal Massachusetts and the New York subway.

The daughter of biologists, Sturley spent summers at the Science School at the marine facility at Woods Hole while her parents did research. “We’d learn how to tell if a crab was pregnant, and who’s eating who,” Sturley said. Back home in New York City, Sturley routinely missed her stop on the 1 Train on her daily ride to high school because her nose was stuck in a novel. At Princeton, she entwined the worlds of literature and the lab in meaningful ways on her path towards becoming a physician.

Sturley has completed all her required pre-med coursework while pursuing her major in English. Her senior thesis, titled “‘The Body Intervenes’: Narrating Illness at the Turn of the 20th Century,” looks at how writers and artists portrayed their own experiences with illness.

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