How did you become interested in science and research?
I think I always was interested in nature. I kept a science box with wasp nests, snake skins, etc. (I still have this box) and enjoyed participating in science fairs in elementary and middle school. I also felt I was better at science and math than I was in English. Later, I became interested in research through a work study job preparing materials for a cell biology lab during my freshman year of college.
What brought you to NICHD?
I came to NIH because I met my husband, who was an investigator at NIH, at a conference.
What types of training, experiences, or traits are essential for success in your position?
I think persistence is the most important trait for my position. I also think competitive situations, such as sport teams, and working repetitive jobs gave me useful skills.
What do you find most valuable about working at NICHD?
My colleagues! I feel very fortunate to have so many terrific and helpful colleagues.
What is your favorite research finding out of everything you have worked on?
One incredible result (possibly because I developed it in the middle of the night) was finding out that I could change the ability of a transcription factor to activate transcription just by adding and taking away a reducing agent, showing that the transcription factor is regulated by oxidation and reduction.
If you have advanced along your career within the institute, can you summarize your career steps and how you successfully navigated these changes?
I started my career at NIH with a brief postdoctoral fellowship in the National Cancer Institute. After that, I joined NICHD, where I gradually advanced from a junior investigator to the position I have now—principal investigator and associate scientific director.
What advice can you offer to people who are at an earlier stage of their career?
There is more flexibility in a career path than you might imagine. Keep pursuing the opportunities that you find interesting and give you energy, and keep your options open.
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