Today, I introduce my very awesome mentor, Tori, and how she came to be the inquisitive researcher she is now. As an undergraduate student, Tori majored in molecular, cellular and developmental biology with a concentration in neurobiology in Yale University. While she entered Yale thinking she may be pre-med, after spending a year working in neurobiology lab, she decided to pursue research. Her main reason for the change was this: she wanted to understand the science behind the treatments and extend the current knowledge by asking questions and answering those questions herself. Tori has always wanted to understand the maladaptations behind neuropsychiatric disorders and continue to do so now. Her current disorders of interest are dystonia(abnormal muscle tone as a resulting in spasms and abnormal posture) and Parkinson’s disease.
What Tori particularly like about Science is the process of pursuing an answer to her question. What got her into research are the “spark moments” when she finds an answer, or a major revelation to her question. However, part of the difficulty of pursing research is that these “spark moments” seem to come very slowly. Many types of failures deter scientists from conducting successful experiments; there could be technical mistakes, or non-significant results that reveal there could be a fundamental problem with the theory. Troubleshooting will always be a part of a scientist’s life. Furthermore, research in academia has a very slow return rate, and could take anywhere between several months to several years.
There could be four qualities that constitute a successful scientist: unwavering curiosity, independence, self-efficacy and attention to detail. Curiosity may originate from personal motivation, or just simply from the love of a question like Tori. While collaboration in Science is very important, the expectation is that you will be the expert in your field, and conduct your own experiment. Scientists need to be independent. Self-efficacy is necessary to persevere in between the “spark moments”. Attention to detail is needed to do troubleshooting. Ultimately, the life of a scientist is a hard one, but could be one of the most rewarding in the long run.