I always planned to be a professional musician, but ended up becoming a scientist almost at random! I didn’t really pay much attention to math or science classes until the very end of high school, but I was still able to catch up well enough to do an undergraduate degree in molecular biology and math. It turns out that once you discover something that is fascinating to you about math and science, it’s not that hard to learn, especially if you are learning and studying with a group of cool and motivated people, so you can all help each other to understand the material and what is amazing about it. Even though it was not a career path I was even aware of as an undergraduate, it turns out that being a scientist is a perfect job for me, because doing science has a lot of the same elements that I always liked about doing music: it requires creativity, hard work, problem solving, working in teams, being flexible, open-minded and adaptable, and presenting your work to people on a regular basis. Even if you have not usually thought of yourself as a “science/math person,” if you like puzzles and have a lot of curiosity about how the natural world works and how it got to be the way it is, I encourage you to take this course!
I don’t have that classic story where I can say I fell in love with science at a young age, discovered the beauty of research early and marched towards the goal of being a scientist – my path here is much more circuitous. I always loved school and the natural world, but most of my free time was spent at the barn with horses. I was lucky enough to have many fantastic teachers in school that were willing to feed and indulge my curiosity in many different areas. Heading off to college was overwhelming because I felt that I had to choose one topic for a major when I enjoyed so many. I had always loved math, but despite doing well in courses, in my mind I wasn’t very good at it. So, I told myself that in college I would take math classes until I couldn’t do the work anymore, at which point I would stop. Funnily enough, one math course turned into two and then three and eventually enough for a math major. Despite also majoring in biology, I did not begin to explore research until the end of my undergraduate time and though I enjoyed it, I felt like I never had any idea what I was doing and was always confused about my project. Unsure about graduate school, I spent three years working in a synthetic chemistry lab. There I realized that being confused is pretty much standard for research, but that the unknown is a lot more fun when it is your own project and you can work on it all day, every day. I moved on to graduate school, shifting gears back into biology, where I fell in love with bacteria and thinking about how they work. This course integrates research with many of the topics that I love, and I look forward to sharing them with you.