James Watson became interested in science because of bird migration. He was six years old. Many years later he was awarded a Nobel Prize for discovering the double-helix structure of DNA. What happened in between? Martin Chalfie was studying the genes required for touch sensitivity in C. elegans. And then he was awarded a Nobel Prize for developing GFP as a biomarker. How did he come up with that idea?
It's not that they had a secret recipe for success, there is no "secret sauce" as Keith Yamamoto would say. Perhaps they got good advice. There is a chance that they knew what to look for during their training and acquired the skills required to be a good scientist. Or maybe they were able to focus their creativity and came up with great ideas. The possibilities are vast. Wouldn't it be great if we could know those details? If we could stand on the shoulders of giants and build our careers?
Well, science is, more often than not, a winding road with a lot of detours, rather than one straight line to the results you are looking for. And since, unfortunately, we don't have enough time to take all of the detours, why not hear from people who: Have been down some of those alternative paths? Learned from their mistakes to become successful like Bruce Alberts? Went to a seminar and got a Nobel-Prize-worthy idea (hint: GFP)? Or are going to start a postdoc but are not sure what to do to get the most out of that experience—it would be great to know that, right?
Actually, you can. Online. For free. Available for you, whenever you need it most. Go online to iBiology and check the iBioMagazine videos. You will find top scientists (including the ones I have mentioned) giving advice to build your career, interviews with people in different career paths (great resource to learn all the options available), and discussions about education or the science landscape in other countries. There are many stories which will inspire you, leave you in awe, or encourage you to think outside the box.
This is the first of a series of posts about iBiology and the great resources you can find on the website. In the next post, I will write about how this initiative started, told by the founder himself: Ron Vale. Stay tuned! In the meantime, why don't you take a look at the site? I am sure you will find it very interesting.