Professor of Microbiology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
It [is] worth the persistence.
What do you do?
My lab studies how viruses cause disease. I do a little bit of teaching (about 10 lectures per year), but most of my time is spent mentoring students and postdocs doing research in my lab and coming up with new experiments.
Why did you choose this field?
We did a river study in high school over 6 weeks and presented our findings to the community. It was great exposure to how science is done.
What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?
The fact that I get to be creative and devise new experiments to test new theories that I think of is mind blowing. There's a lot of freedom and creativity in academic science.
Why do you love working in STEM?
I like being the first person in the world to know a new thing in biology. I'm not in the lab anymore, but I love it when people in my group come and show me their new findings. It's different every day.
Best advice for next generation?
Don't give up. I really didn't like chemistry or physics and they were hard for me, but I loved biology. It was worth the persistence in getting through those early prerequisite classes.
Inspo quote / fun fact / role model
"Try again. Fail again. Fail better." It's not very positive, but it's true. Failure is a big part of science and willingness to fail and move on is critical.