Christopher L. Pickett, Ph.D.


Find him on Twitter: @ChrisPickett5

Undergrad: Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, University of Colorado Boulder, 1999

Graduate: PhD in Oncological Sciences University of Utah, 2006

Current Job: Director, Rescuing Biomedical Research

What experience first got you interested in science and is that field the same one you went on to pursue?

High school biology and physics classes got me interested in pursuing a science career. I graduated from the University of Colorado with a biology undergraduate degree. After graduate school and during my postdoc, I decided to use my scientific training in science policy.

Tell me about some people who helped or inspired you along the way, in your early training and later in your career.

My graduate advisor helped me early in my career to grow as a scientist. More recently, the thoughtful and curious science community on Twitter has helped me grow in science policy.

Can you tell me about any moments of doubt you had as a student or early in your career and how you dealt with it?

I doubted myself almost the entire way through graduate school. Was this the right place for me? Was I wasting my time? Was I going to succeed? I made it through with my friends who were enduring similar doubts. We all had different successes at different times and by celebrating all of them, we were able to make it through.

Can you share two or three surprising twists or turns in your early scientific training and your later career path.

My changing interests surprised me. I never found genetics interesting until confronted with the possibility of pursuing a thesis project that relied heavily on genetics. I jumped in and found myself enjoying it. Similarly, I never thought about how science policy affected the progress of science until I immersed myself in policy and saw the interaction firsthand.

Can you give some examples of how you have incorporated your non scientific interests into your work.

I often kept my personal interests separate from my scientific ones. This is how I maintained balance in my life. Having dedicated time away from anything related to my research gave me space to relax and recharge so that I could keep making progress on my thesis.

Is there some advice you could you share from your own experience to help someone with a science degree who is just starting off on their own career path.

Remember that you are in a training position and training means trying new things. Even if they don’t seem relevant to your primary work, learning about new things is what you are supposed to be doing. Relating what you are doing to your thesis work isn’t the point. The point is to branch out and use the freedom you have to prepare yourself for the time when you are no longer in a training position.

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