Today we publish a Q&A with Dr. Marie Heffern, the first in a series of short interviews with early career researchers. We will be publishing these throughout the next year and welcome suggestions for featured researchers.
Spotlight on Early Career Researchers
At Communications Biology we aware of the challenges facing early career researchers in a competitive research environment. We are keen to involve young investigators as referees and editorial board members. In addition, to increase the visibility of this group, we have published a series of interviews with young investigators that we are now presenting in a special Collection. In this “Q&A” section, new group leaders and postdoctoral researchers talk about their work and share their experiences. We hope that you will find the collection informative and inspiring.
Marie Heffern began her independent career at UC Davis in July 2017. In this short Q&A (the first of a new series highlighting early-career researchers), she tells us about her experience as a young researcher and the advice she has for her younger self.
Gerrit Maus began his independent career at Nanyang Technological University in October 2015. In this short interview, part of our series highlighting early-career researchers (
This interview in our series highlighting early-career researchers is with Gregory Lavieu, INSERM investigator at Institut Curie in Paris, France. In this series, we aim to bring attention to the diversity and individual stories of early-career researchers (defined as postdoctoral scientists through to tenure, or the equivalent). Gregory joined the institute as a permanent researcher in October 2017 to unlock the mysteries of extracellular vesicles. Here he discusses the many unanswered questions in the field as well as his unconventional path to his current position.
Ragothaman Yennamalli is an Assistant Professor at Jaypee University of Information Technology in Waknaghat, India, where he uses computational tools to study protein structure and function. In this installment of our Q&A series with early-career researchers, Ragothaman tells us about his journey from microbiology to computational biology and the inspiration and challenges he experienced along the way.
Blake Ushijima is a post-doctoral researcher at Oregon State University, where he studies the microbes causing disease in corals. In this next instalment of our Q&A series, he discusses how he got into marine microbiology and the anxieties of researchers studying coral ecosystems.
Jelena Baranovic began her independent career at University of Edinburgh in September 2018. In this short Q&A she tells us about her experience as an early career researcher, the advice she would give to her younger self, and the lessons learned from studying ion channel physiology, for both biology and career development.
Christine Schaner Tooley is an Assistant Professor at the University of Buffalo, where she studies the role of N-terminal methylation on human development and disease. In this installment of our Q&A series with early-career researchers, Christine tells us about her journey from not wanting an academic career to running her own lab, where the field is headed, and her favorite post-translational modification.
Yi Zhu is an Instructor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and an NIH K99/R00 career development award recipient. In this interview—part of our series on early-career researchers—he tells us about his work studying metabolic diseases and how he overcame doubts about his career in research by finding out the grass is not always greener on the other side. Finally, Dr. Zhu shares some great advice about finding balance in life, which is important for early-career researchers and anyone else pursuing a busy and challenging career.
Dr. Andrea Henle is an Assistant Professor of biology at Carthage College in Wisconsin. Her research focuses on uveal melanoma, using zebrafish as a model system, and spans molecular and cellular mechanisms of cancer progression, immunology, and even space biology. As part of our series on early-career researchers, we asked Dr. Henle to talk to us about her research and her passion for teaching undergraduate students. Dr. Henle also has some advice for young scientists pursuing an academic career, which we think is equally valuable for anyone starting out on their unique career path.
Dr. Alexander Wyatt is a Senior Research Scientist at the Vancouver Prostate Centre and Assistant Professor at the University of British Columbia. His research uses genomics and bioinformatics to understand lethal prostate and bladder cancer and identify potential new targets for therapy. In this latest instalment of our series highlighting early-career researchers in biology, Dr. Wyatt tells us about research interests and career and about the challenges of the demanding research faculty workload. We’re sure many of our readers will appreciate Dr. Wyatt’s advice on the importance of learning to say “no”.
Dr. Natalia Castaño-Rodríguez is a National Health and Medical Research Council Early Career Fellow in the School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences at the University of New South Wales. Her research focuses on understanding how host immunogenetic factors interact with bacterial infection and gut dysbiosis to regulate tumorigenesis and chronic inflammation in humans, using molecular biology, microbiology, genetics, and bioinformatics. As part of our series on early-career researchers, we asked Dr. Castaño-Rodríguez to talk to us about her research and career path. She also shares the lesson she’s learned from studying the bacteria colonizing our stomachs.
Dr. Benjamin Bitler began his independent career at University of Colorado in January 2017. In this short Q&A he tells us about his motivation and passion for research, advice he would give to his younger self, and the attributes of cancer cells that he finds most perplexing.
Dr. Matt Field is a Senior Research Fellow in Bioinformatics at the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine at James Cook University, co-director of the Centre for Tropical Bioinformatics and Molecular Biology, and a Chief Investigator for the Centre for Personalised Immunology, an NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence. His research focuses on developing high-throughput bioinformatic analysis pipelines and bringing genomics and personalised medicine into routine clinical practice. In this instalment of our series on early-career researchers, we asked Dr. Field to talk about his research, career trajectory, and the importance of remembering the big picture when working on projects with potential clinical impact.
Dr. Kate Miroshnikova is a bioengineer by training and is currently a postdoctoral EMBO/HFSP fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing and at the Helsinki Institute of Life Science. She is interested in understanding biomechanical regulation of stem cell fate decisions in health and disease. Kate’s long term scientific interest is to understand how cells and tissues sense, integrate, and adapt their transcriptomes and proteomes to the highly dynamic mechanical environments without compromising structural and genomic integrity.
Dr. Lovorka Stojic is a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Cambridge and will start her own research group at the Barts Cancer Institute this fall. Her research focuses on understanding how long noncoding RNAs and RNA-binding proteins regulate key cellular processes and how dysregulation of these processes can contribute to human diseases such as cancer. As part of our series on early-career researchers, we asked Dr. Stojic to tell us about her research and career path. She also shares her challenges from juggling between multiple roles and advice for job applications.
Toshiro Moroishi is an Associate Professor at the Department of Molecular Enzymology at Kumamoto University, Japan where he has led his own group since December 2017. Research in his lab is focused on the role and regulation of Hippo signalling in development and cancer with a specific interest in the role for Hippo in immunosuppression. He tells us about his research interests, career and lessons learned along the way, as part of our series on early-career researchers.
Verena Ruprecht is a group Leader in the Cell & Developmental Biology program at the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG) in Barcelona. She studies organismal development using zebrafish as a system, taking an interdisciplinary approach involving cell and molecular biology, imaging and mathematical tools to obtain information on the scale of molecules, cells, and tissues. We have asked Dr. Ruprecht about her research and thoughts about the future of her field as part our series on early-career researchers.
Dr. César de la Fuente is a Presidential Assistant Professor at the University of Pennsylvania. He leads a Machine Biology group developing computational tools to expand the antibiotic arsenal, engineer the microbiome and study and control brain function and behavior. His work has been recognized by the Langer Prize, ACS Kavli Emerging Leader in Chemistry award, ACS Infectious Diseases Young Investigator Award, STAT News, GEN, and the MIT Technology Review. We asked Dr. de la Fuente about his research and journey of the field as part of our series on early-career researchers.