This week I had the fortune of interviewing Dr. Bursac and asking him questions regarding his upbringing and exploration of his academic interests. Growing up, Dr. Bursac loved math, physics, biology, and sports which led him to pursuing Electrical Engineering at Belgrade University in Serbia. He later completed his PhD at Boston University and researched at MIT under Dr. Robert Langer. Afterwards, he completed postdoctoral work at JHU under Dr. Leslie Tung and later became a professor here at Duke, where he primarily researches cardiac disease and heart electric phenomena. When asked about what he liked about scientific research, he commented on how it has a greater cause, requires constant learning, and allows him to interact with other researchers; “It’s super exciting and that excitement is still with me after 25 years”. Dr. Bursac told me that as he spent more time in academia he started appreciating teaching and mentoring more, and how he realized that research is more complex than just science and knowledge and requires good management skills, PR, and networking as well.
As I finished up the interview, Dr. Bursac imparted some timely advice: “Follow this journey with passion and always think about the big picture. Be courageous to try something new and patient with failures as scientific breakthroughs never happen over night. Mentor your students thoughtfully. Work hard and try to have fun!”