Department of Pharmacology
“My personal philosophy on science is ‘do what interests you and do it very well.’ I believe that the premise of being an academic scientist is to have the autonomous freedom to choose which biological problems interest you most. I was fortunate enough to have mentors in both my graduate and postdoctoral training that were present in lab and were truly excited about the science.
“My past experiences in lab have taught me that being engaged in lab ‘hand-in-hand’ with the students is really of the utmost importance. I consider myself a lifelong student as I am constantly learning about new techniques or new biological problems. My goal is to be experimentally active in lab throughout my career. What good is the training I received if I can’t communicate it to the next generation of scientists who will hopefully take it to the next level in the future?
“I am a real advocate for having fun with science as well. In a profession that can be very serious (sometimes far too serious) we can get lost and forget to have fun and ask the ‘dumb’ questions. It is usually the lingering question that often leads to seminal discovery or new avenues of research. In my lab, there is always a complex mix of music, NPR, and experiments. I think a casual but serious nature about the science ultimately leads to a place where students want to be, rather than having to be.
“I was attracted to my faculty position at U-M for a number of reasons. First, I was really impressed with the overall breadth of research being performed here at U-M in both the clinical and basic science divisions. Secondly, I was by delighted by the open possibility for both clinical and basic science collaboration. I feel this is a particularly strong point that U-M has to offer and will ultimately benefit both sides of research.
“In my area of research, students are excited that my lab is taking a multi-pronged approach at understanding how neural connectivity is established. We use the model organism Caenorhabditis elegans and the mouse model system interchangeably to try and unravel the complexities of how neural circuits give rise to particular behaviors. We feel that fundamental gene discovery in the simple soil nematode C. elegans will give us a directed path to understanding more complex behaviors in the mouse model system. When I talk to students, I think they are most excited about the possibilities of coming to our lab and being able to learn multiple aspects of science that range from genetics to biochemistry.
“I think that students who train here will have an advantage as those students who are more inclined to strict basic research will have the necessary exposure to clinical applications of the basic sciences. As well, those students who are geared toward patients and clinical training will have a better and more complete insight into how the basic scientist thinks and how the research can translate in the clinic.
“The future of medicine has demonstrated a need for a medical-scientist who can bridge the gap between the clinic and the lab. I feel that the U-M graduate programs are doing a great job fostering this transition for our future. It is this breadth of training opportunities that makes U-M a great breeding ground for the future of academic and industrial science.”