The Most Important Experiment: Your Career – an Interview with Dr. Joerg Schlatterer

The Most Important Experiment: Your Career – an Interview with Dr. Joerg Schlatterer

This is a guest post by Future of Research policy activist Adriana Bankston. On February 14, 2017, Dr. Joerg Schlatterer gave a talk to the Career Research Advancement Focused Training (CRAFT) seminar series at the University of Louisville entitled “The Most Important Experiment: Your Career”. Following his talk, he graciously agreed to give an interview for the non-profit organization Future of Research, in which he expressed his views on graduate education and career development for trainees.     What is your name and current position? My name is Joerg Schlatterer. I am the manager of the Graduate and Postdoctoral Scholars Office in the Education Division of the American Chemical Society.   How has your research progressed overtime? My research focused on chemistry, biochemistry, and biophysics of nucleic acids. As a chemistry student in Berlin/Germany, I synthesized initiator nucleotides for in vitro selection of RNA enzymes (ribozymes). As a Ph.D. student in Heidelberg, I generated artificial Diels-Alderase ribozymes, which supported the RNA World hypothesis. As a postdoc at the National High Magnetic Field laboratory in Florida, I learned how to solve RNA structures using solution NMR techniques. I added a third element to my research skill portfolio when I joined the Albert Einstein College of Medicine (Einstein)/New York, first as a postdoc and then as an instructor. I learned how to determine folding pathways of large RNAs using time-resolved hydroxyl radical footprinting approaches. I achieved my research goal of mastering all three pillars of RNA research:  generation of artificial ribozymes, examination of RNA structure, and determination of RNA folding pathways.   Tell us about the career development part of your...
Life as a young scientist: a personal perspective

Life as a young scientist: a personal perspective

This is a guest post by Future of Research policy activist, Adriana Bankston.   Growing up in Romania in a family of scientists was unusual in the 80s and 90s. For my parents, both scientists, doing research without many grant opportunities or lab supplies was grueling. And raising a child on top of that was difficult both financially and timewise. But I never fully understood how they balanced everything until I had to do it all myself.   At a young age, without a suitable place to pursue my interests in science, I jumped at the chance to attend college in America. The transition was surprisingly easy for me, since I already knew English pretty well at the time – and somehow felt like I was always meant to live here. College ended up being both enjoyable and productive. During this time, I fell in love with academic research. As a plus, I also met my future husband, and apparently converted him into becoming a biologist!   During graduate school, I was lucky enough to find a mentor who challenged me as a scientist, and to make some good friends on campus. But studying at a top private university in the U.S. for the first time in my life came with its own pressures. True to form for any scientist, I did my best to organize my life in the lab. I made to-do lists, broke up large tasks into small ones, and set short-term and long-term deadlines. In the long run, I managed to be fairly productive and happy in the lab. But outside of it, balancing research...