I had the pleasure to sit down with my PI, Dr. Amy Bejsovec and her dog Benny, this week to interview her for my blog post. I was really excited for this opportunity to learn more about her and her research journey.
Dr. Amy Bejsovec started out at Cornell University as a biology major. She then continued her education at University of Wisconsin Madison after being accepted into their genetics program. However, her love of science started way before her undergraduate major. Growing up in near a wooded area on Long Island, Dr. Bejsovec spent much time in nature venturing out as far as her bike could take her. She told me that she found herself just fascinated with animals and wanting to learn more.
With such a wide area of interest for nature, I wanted to know more about how Dr. Bejsovec came to be working with Drosophila melanogaster. Dr. Bejsovec did not always know that she would work with Drosophila, in fact her first encounters with an organism occurred through a project on territorialism in hermit crabs that won her first prize (a calculator that she still has and occasionally uses till this day!). Throughout graduate school, Dr. Bejsovec worked on muscle development in nematode worms. When Dr. Bejsovec was deciding what to do for her post-doctoral work, new discoveries regarding the striped nature of gene expression in Drosophila caught her attention. From then on, Dr. Bejsovec has spent much of her career researching wingless.
A fascinating moment in her research journey she told me about occurred during her third year of graduate school when she truly recognized herself as a scientist. Up until that point, she thought that these unanswered questions were a shortcoming of her own knowledge; however, she came to realize that these questions signified the edge of knowledge. But after recognizing this boundary that she was approaching; she decided to persevere and push forward (a common theme in her research journey) to begin finding the answers to the questions.
In her own lab at Duke, she continues working with winglessand Drosophila and foresees herself continuing her work with this model. Outside of her research Dr. Bejsovec co-teaches Biology 202 Genetics and Evolution, and a class on Cancer Genetics. In addition to teaching roles, she serves on the Academic Council for Duke University. Towards the end of our interview session, I asked Dr. Bejsovec about what advice she would give to someone wanting to get involved with research. Though our conversation Dr. Bejsovec imported many lessons of persistence and perseverance but I leave you with a few things that resonated deeply with me:
“Find what you’re passionate about, what makes you feel fulfilled and satisfied and pursue that”
“Talk to as many people as you can who are willing to speak with you and don’t just listen to one person.”
“When you recognize that you’re at the edge of knowledge… the question is how do we push beyond it?”