Foiling a Science Experiment for Love

Drs. Kate Carlisle Stoeckle and Jeffrey Russell Arace broke the rules when they first met.

Their meeting took place in 2013 in a neuroscience lab at the Rockefeller University, where they were working as research assistants. “We walked in on the first day and someone was taking me around the lab to meet everyone,” Dr. Arace said. “Kate was in the middle of an experiment, she had the gloves on and everything. She reached out her hand to shake my hand, and I immediately shook it.”

Dr. Arace was quickly corrected when he then attempted to shake the hand of the person she was working with. “He was like, ‘Oh, no, no, I have gloves on, we’re doing an experiment,’ he recalled. “So it probably ruined her experiment.”

The pair spent countless days in the lab and getting lunch together, and eventually began to date. While they broke up when Dr. Stoeckle left for medical school, they reconnected halfway through. “When we got back together in med school I knew that was it,” she said.

Dr. Stoeckle, 32, is now a clinical fellow in infectious diseases at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. She graduated from Johns Hopkins University and has a medical degree from Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Arace, 31, is an internal medicine resident at Columbia University Medical Center in New York. He graduated from Wesleyan University and received a medical degree from SUNY Downstate College of Medicine in New York.

“Between the two of us we’ve had eight years of medical school,” Dr. Stoeckle said. “And we’ve gotten through all of those things together.”

In their free time, Dr. Stoeckle is an avid hiker (Dr. Arace not so much). The pair went on a memorable trip to Sardinia a few years ago, where they took a hike known as one of the hardest in Europe. “It was way harder than I think any of us imagined,” Dr. Arace said, “and we didn’t make it to the end.”

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The two had difficulty relaxing on that trip, thanks to the tree-destroying caterpillars dropping from the sky. “I think that was one of the moments I realized we were totally solid because we had a great time together despite the horrible worms, and we still laugh about it,” Dr. Stoeckle said. “If we can get through that together, I think we can get through anything.”

During a low-key Tuesday night in June 2020 in her New York apartment, Dr. Arace proposed. There was no photographer, but they made sure to take plenty of selfies. “It was perfect for us,” Dr. Stoeckle said.

“It was just a moment for the two of us,” Dr. Arace added.

The pair married Sep. 18 on the beach at Long Beach Island in New Jersey. The ceremony was officiated by the bride’s best friend, Katrina Kostro, ordained for the event through the Universal Life Church.

The reception was held at the Long Beach Island Foundation for the Arts and Sciences with 89 guests, all fully vaccinated and tested.

The couple is looking forward to staying in New York City and eventually escaping for a trip in April when they both can get time off. In the meantime, they plan to continue supporting and enjoying one another.

“I can be totally myself with Jeff, and I’ve never had that with anyone else,” Dr. Stoeckle said. “I just feel like he’s my person.”

“It just feels right,” Dr. Arace added. “We’ve both found someone who we can count on, who’s supportive and makes the other person laugh.”