Words of Advice

Here is a collection of encouraging, motivating, and inspiring words of advice that each person provided us with during our interviews!

Andrew Baumgartner, PhD

“I would say, first and foremost, time management is a huge one. As long as you manage your time well during the day and in college, getting all your work done and studying hard and all that stuff, you will be able to have a good balance between your work and life. Sometimes you can’t always do that because you’re under pressure or whatever, but trying as hard as you can is also good. Another one would be don’t compromise who you are for the sake of a career. It’s important to kind of not change who you are and how you operate as a person just so that you can get a job or appease your boss or something and that’s true across the board with any job. I think you’ll find the more you have a normal life and hangout with friends and family and stuff like that, the harder you will work during the day.”

Andrew Magis, PhD

“People will say stuff that is true like pursue your passion or do stuff that inspires you and that sort of thing, and I think all of that stuff is true. I also think that people are very impressed by initiative, so often that I’ve succeeded with making progress, getting people’s attention, or securing my role in a particular research area by hearing about a problem that we’re going to talk about and really taking the initiative on it! Often that means kind of starting work on something and coming up with a research plan or preliminary findings. Coming into a project saying I’ve thought a lot about this and I got a lot of resources. It’s not really so much that you have to be right about something, but what I’m impressed with at least and others I believe, is when you come into something and you’re clearly motivated. I think talent and education is great obviously and very valuable, but they don’t take you anywhere if you don’t take initiative or have the motivation to actually act on your talent and education.”

Eliza Peterson, PhD

“I think the challenge of computational biology as well as the way it brings you closer to a hypothesis without having to do a lot of extra work was inspiring. Computational biology can be very useful in this way of making hypotheses and predictions for experimentation.”

James (Jim) R. Heath, PhD

“I think you should get in a lab or get in an environment where you are actually doing science and trying to solve a problem. You’ve got a lot to offer so don’t sell yourself short. Work on a problem that really gets you excited because basically, if you don’t have a problem that gets you excited, you better have good hobbies. There’s synergy, environment, human health, economic and health disparities, whatever you get excited about. The best way to predict the future is to make it and be an active participant in what happens. Also women are going to take over the world and I think you know that! Women are stepping up to solve some of the world’s biggest problems.”

Jennifer Hadlock, MD

“Hang onto something that’s fundamental to your values in life. Then even if things get really tough, you’ll remember why you are there, and know that what you do matters. Also, pay attention to whether or not a problem you are working on is fun. If not, listen to that instinct and ask yourself why. Maybe it is a problem that can be solved.”

Kalliopi Trachana, PhD

“I’d say, every time you start a new project, guide and become experts on the subject. Always try to deepen your knowledge, become an informative person in this field. The second piece of advice I have is, because you are women, do not be afraid to participate in IT. When I mean ‘IT,’ I mean data, cloud, writing python, learning code, and everything else that has to do with computer science. Do not think this is something that only males can do, women can not only do it, but can excel and be very good at it. Do not be afraid of computers! I believe this is very important. Lastly, be fulfilled. If there are things that you do not like, raise your concerns and do not be afraid of that. Make an environment for yourself where you can thrive and where you will be trusted to pursue your ideas and interests.”

Leroy (Lee) Hood, MD, PhD (Hood-Price Lab)

“I think the best advice is whatever you do you have to be passionate and excited about it. And that should determine where you go. Wherever you go, you should try and interact with really outstanding colleagues, because they stimulate you way beyond what you might do by yourself. So, be excited about it and work with people who are themselves really exciting and can get you really excited. So many times in my life I have had a casual conversation after a meeting or a class where someone said something simple, and all of a sudden it changed how I thought about things. And those are the kind of people that are exciting to be around so when you go to college you want to go to schools where there will be students and teachers that will challenge you. Always have a good time. Always be changing your thinking around.”

Naeha Subramanian, PhD (Subramanian Lab) 

“The biggest advice I could give to anybody is that whatever you do, do it with your whole heart! Don’t cut corners. Have perseverance, especially for high school students who want to do research since research is an accumulation of failures. Research means that you’re learning potentially for the rest of your life. You have to be open to learning new technologies, using them in your research, and not being afraid to go outside of your comfort zone to do new things. Don’t get caught up in a mood where you keep doing the same things again and again because that’s the easiest way. For high school students, go out there and learn new technologies. If you want to ask a question, really the sky’s the limit in terms of the number of ways you can go about doing it. If you learn these things early on, it will take you really far.”

Naomi Martin (Hood-Price Lab)

“My advice for high school students is to try new things. You’re not going to figure out what you want to do in life straight off the bat. I’d say experiment a little with your interests and eventually you’ll find something that you’re passionate about and finding that ultimate passion is so rewarding and all worth it.”

Nitin S. Baliga, MSc, PhD (Baliga Lab)

“Be curious! You should find excitement in observations that try to explain the world around you. There are so many interesting things happening around you all the time. Everyone gets excited by different things, find out what excites you. I would say I actually get excited by things outside of my domain. I get fascinated by people doing wonderful things that I don’t fully understand how they do it. You always need to be a student, forever. That never changes. Then you have to find out where you can make big contributions and who you can go to to get advice about participating in those contributions. Keep engaging with professionals and have fun, it shouldn’t be a chore. If you’re having fun it means you’re doing the right thing! Work and education don’t need to be painful, they need to be joyful and then you have to do the hard work. You can’t expect quick success overnight. Things take time! No matter what path you take, if you want to take the leading edge, you will keep running into hurdles, obstacles, and people who don’t believe in you and give you every reason for you to quit. Don’t. Sometimes there are good reasons to change course, but you need to know why you want to change course, not because of a small obstacle. Learning how to overcome an obstacle is the point where you really start to grow. Hard work and failure is required no matter what you do. If you are doing everything and nothing is going wrong, you need to ask yourself, am I pushing myself enough, am I doing only safe things or things that are comfortable. Be the one that is driving the cycle. If you let problems excite you, put energy into solving those problems, and try to get experience with professionals, you’ll figure it out! Also, don’t make a decision too soon. Every step is exciting! Keep your mind open and keep absorbing as much information as you can.”

Priyanka Baloni, PhD (Hood-Price Lab) 

“So, for me, the advice I can give to a first-time coder is to go slow and steady. Pick up a single language at a time. Don’t start learning 2-3 different languages because it’s very tough to understand the syntax of different programming languages. First start with the language that is best for you and the data that you want to analyze. Once you learn the basics and the syntax of that language, you can switch to another one. The major thing is to go slow and steady, because learning a language is not easy. As a biologist, we are not trained to think about stuff from a mathematical perspective.”

Venkata Duvvuri, PhD, MS, MPH (Hadlock Lab) 

“If you want to be a biologist or a medical doctor, you need to understand those and computational programming also. In the future, one must know computers. I would suggest. If you understand biology, you can understand computers, machine learning is completely what we are thinking. Machine learning is artificial intelligence. Say it’s a simple model, we are always living with our models. For you guys it’s a good way to get involved. To excel in the career, I learned that you have to be very proactive and bold. Have no fear in what you want to pursue. That’s the key thing I learned in myself and also continuously read literature. Literature reading is very important if you want to do the research side, keeping up with yourself, not whatever you’re focused on and apart from my biology I like understanding the psychology methodologies because psychology develops the activity methods, but by understanding people, interactions, they double up. Spend time reading papers from different subject areas that may be useful.”

Yeon Mi Hwang (Hadlock Lab)

“I would say learn programming because it will open up a lot of opportunities, but for me I would say just try everything and be open-minded. Even though you might not like it, just try everything to find out what you like or dislike. I would also do more internships or work in a lab. Don’t be afraid of trying new things! If you’re afraid of grades, you don’t really have to work in your school, you can do it outside. Also, don’t be so focused on work! It’s always good to be focused on the career, but also try to have fun and experience everything you can!”