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Career in biology: Tips / advice From a scientist

Could you tell us something about your entry into academia and your highly successful career?

“I belonged to my professional society.In the summer of 1962 I read an article in a magazine published by my professional society that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) was encouraging experienced engineers to get their PhD and become teachers in the new field of bioengineering and NIH would pay the bills.I applied and was accepted at the University of Rochester in 1963 and four years later started teaching and research at the University of Wisconsin.”

—John Webster, PhD, University of Wisconsin – Madison, USA

“While still completing a PhD in cardiac neurophysiology, I was fortunate enough to be awarded a lecturing position. I was thus introduced early into aspects of academia including teaching and learning, scholarship and commercial interactions. The reason behind commencing a PhD was quite simple. I was working in industry and felt that I was not being challenged and that I would need to spend many years working in rather menial roles until I could engage in more stimulating activities. A return to the University was an easy choice.”

—Nigel Lovell, PhD, University of New South Wales, Australia

“During my undergraduate years, corporate engineering positions or clinical medicine were more visible and ‘understandable.’ A summer opportunity through the National Science Foundation/Research Experience for Undergraduates during my undergraduate years, in the field of computational neuroscience, opened my eyes to academic research. I also realized that research could provide a fascinating career. I ultimately received a PhD in Electrical Engineering and then a change of direction as a neurobiology post-doc. Fusing these experiences together, into ‘neural engineering’ / ‘computational neuroscience’ is what helped open doors the doors for me as an academic.”

—Krishna Shenoy, PhD, Stanford University, USA