Let’s start with your name, current position, and location (click the links to see more about Raghu Padinjat, the lab, and NCBS):
What kind of research do you do?
What is one word that best describes how you work?
What excites you most about your current work?
Answering long-standing questions by working with young people and new technologies.
Can you describe one experience from your life or training that set you on this path?
I began life after college training in clinical medicine. In the first year of medical school, a professor who taught human physiology introduced me to the concept of research. He offered me the opportunity to work in his lab after classes and during holidays. I was hooked to this way of life and have been pursuing research into basic questions in cell physiology ever since.
What is one part of your current position or project that you find challenging?
Modern science is complex, interdisciplinary, and involves large teams of diverse individuals and personalities. Keeping everyone connected to the central question while working in a team is a challenge.
Do you have any specific advice for students about choosing this career path?
While scientific research can be an intellectually rewarding career, it can also be a challenging one. Each of us must find what is right for us. Therefore, I would suggest that individuals undertake an internship or something similar in order to experience a life in research before making a long-term commitment to this career.
What are your preferred methods for training your students to become independent scientists?
I like to provide a low-resolution blueprint of the broad area and allow my trainees to develop it.
What is your best time-saving shortcut/lifehack?
The longest distance between two points is a shortcut.
In your opinion, what makes a successful scientist?
One who is able to publish high-quality work on whose shoulders other scientists are willing to base their science, as well as motivate and train the next generation of scientists to a high standard.
When/where do you find the most creative inspiration for your research?
Other people’s work. Talking to lab colleagues who have read a lot of the literature.
What is one thing you never fail to do in or outside of the lab, no matter how busy you are?
Read and keep up with current affairs. Newspapers and magazines are in the past. Unfortunately, the internet these days.
Who is one of your scientific heroes, and what is one quality you admire in that person?
Dr. Frederick Sanger. As a scientist, modesty is a good thing, despite one’s achievements; Dr. Sanger (he was awarded two Nobel prizes, but more importantly enabled most biology we do today!) set an example that is good to aspire toward, hard to follow.
What are your interests outside of the lab?
Dogs, elephants, history, and biographies
How do you balance your personal life with your work life?
I am not very good at it. So, best not to advise others!!
What is the best advice you’ve received that you’d like to share with trainees?
Focus on doing the science that interests you; everything else will take care of itself.
About the Author:
Emily Bowie is currently a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the lab of Bob Goldstein at UNC-Chapel Hill. She is interested in morphogenesis and embryology. Twitter: @docbowie Email: firstname.lastname@example.org