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Catching Up with TSRI Alumni

Visitors to both campuses of The Scripps Research Institute will soon be greeted by a colorful new display linking past to present. Consisting of four wall-mounted acrylic panels, the new Alumni Spotlight displays will give viewers an updated look at graduates of the institute’s doctoral program as well as former postdoctoral fellows.

Through answers to four questions posed to alumni, the displays will offer a quick look at where TSRI graduates and former postdocs are now working, what they have learned and accomplished, and advice they wish to impart to current students and research fellows.

Their answers will also appear online via TSRI's education website and, eventually, on forthcoming new alumni web portal, TSRI Pathways. The panels will be updated frequently and the Career & Postdoctoral Services Office is constantly looking to profile new alumni.

The physical displays will be installed in early July 2016, and can be viewed in California in the lobby of the Graduate Office (Hazen Theory Building, ground floor) and adjacent to the Scripps Café seating area on the Florida campus.

Read below to catch up with two of the first individuals to be profiled in the Alumni Spotlight displays, former postdoc Scott Edwards, Ph.D., and Graduate Program alum Federico Bernal, Ph.D.

Federico Bernal, Ph.D.
 

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Principal Investigator

Laboratory of Cancer Chemical Biology, Center for Cancer Research

National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health

Graduate Student

Defense Year: 2002

Advisor: K.C. Nicolaou, Ph.D.

Dissertation Title: Part I. Synthesis and Functionalization of the ABCD Domain of Azaspiracid; Part II. Ketene Aminal Phosphates: Dienes and Organometallic Couplings

1. Describe what you do.

My lab at the NCI focuses on the study of pathogenesis pathways using synthetic compounds. Our research primarily spans the fields of cancer biology and infectious diseases. My group contains a mixture of scientists from very diverse scientific areas ranging from physical organic chemistry all the way to cancer molecular biology.

2. Which skills developed at TSRI have been most impactful on your career?

The one skill which had an immediate impact on my career was acquiring the ability to synthesize compounds rapidly and efficiently. All the time spent in K. C. Nicolaou’s lab learning how to produce complex synthetic materials on a large scale paid off tremendously once I began transitioning into biological sciences.

3. What do you enjoy most about your work?

My biggest thrill is watching my students succeed. It feels great to see them picking up a new skill, learning from failure (because there is a lot of that in this business), and seeing them swing for the fences.

4. What advice would you give to others considering a career in academic science?

Build bridges. If you want to straddle different fields, it is necessary to make connections with people in each discipline. In graduate school you learn how to solve problems of a very specific nature, but once you are done, it’s a lot of fun to explore the boundaries of your science. Also, share your skills with other scientists-you’d be surprised to see how many scientists could be interested in your work. Above all, enjoy what you do and dream big because, like Randy Pausch said, 'It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.'

Scott Edwards, Ph.D.
 

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Assistant Professor of Physiology

Alcohol & Drug Abuse Center of Excellence; Neuroscience Center of Excellence

Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center

Postdoctoral Fellow (2007-2013)

Advisor: George F. Koob, Ph.D.

Research Focus: Neurobiology of Dysregulated Motivational Systems in Drug Addiction

1. Describe what you do.

I am an assistant professor in the Department of Physiology at LSU Health-New Orleans. My laboratory investigates the neurobiology of addiction using animal models of drug and alcohol self-administration. We want to understand how excessive drug and alcohol use changes the brain so that we can develop new therapies to treat addiction and related psychiatric conditions.

2. Which skills developed at TSRI have been most impactful on your career?

Teamwork within the lab and networking outside the lab, how to be more productive in terms of publishing and securing research grants, and how to be an effective mentor for the next generation.

3. What do you enjoy most about your work?

The sheer enormity of opportunities available as a young professor in an academic medical center. There are a wide range of valuable teaching and mentoring opportunities in addition to new collaborative and translational research ventures.

4. What advice would you give to others considering a career in academic science?

Put yourself in the best environment possible and then engage that environment whole-heartedly. Build powerful collaborative networks and work hard, always with a team mindset.

Scripps Education Reporter

Edition 5, Summer 2016

IN THIS ISSUE

Edition 5 Home
TSRI Celebrates 24th Commencement

Graduate Faculty Profiles 
New Philanthropic Fellowships
Alumni Website Update
2016 DiVERGE Dates Announced
Catching Up with TSRI Alumni

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Federico Bernal, Ph.D.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scott Edwards, Ph.D.