Tell us about your current career position.I am currently a full Professor in the Department of Pharmacology at the School of Medicine, UC San Diego. As a researcher, I study how cells regulate responsiveness to coagulant and anti-coagulant proteases generated during vascular injury and inflammation. As an educator, I am actively involved in teaching, training, and programs aiming to increase the diversity of science.
What are the key experiences and decisions you made that have helped you reach your current position?
Although it was difficult, I made the decision to leave home and move to a different town to go to college. I decided not to limit myself geographically, and I have made several career moves since. I have also learned to absorb and reflect on peer-review and to then move on and not dwell on criticism. This is a very valuable lesson that has helped me sustain my enthusiasm for science.
How did you first become interested in science?
I first became interested during science in high school. I had the great fortune of meeting the father of a high school teacher who was a Professor. He became my first science mentor.
Were there times when you failed at something you felt was critical to your path? If so, how did you regroup and get back on track?
I have failed many times. The first quarter of college was a big adjustment for me and I failed calculus. I had to learn how to study properly before I passed the class the second time. I was devastated when the first paper I submitted as a graduate student was rejected. I learned that criticism and rejection is part of the scientific process, and my revised manuscript was eventually accepted. You cannot let failure discourage you. It is important to learn from your mistakes and to move forward.
What advice would you give to young persons from under-represented backgrounds who want to pursue a career in science similar to yours?
I would encourage young people to follow their passion, work hard, and find great mentors. The road is always bumpy regardless of your career path, but I have found that hard work, dedication, and great mentors have made my journey easier.
What are your hobbies?
I like to be outdoors biking, running, and hiking. I especially enjoy backpacking and exploring the Sierra Nevada mountain range.
What was the last book you read?
Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain by David Eagleman. It is a truly enlightening book about the relationship between consciousness and the brain.
Do you have any heroes, heroines, or role models? If so, describe how they have influenced you?
I have many heroes, heroines, and role models. The most influential people in my early life would be my mother and older sister. Their perseverance and hard work allowed me to have a better life.
What is it that keeps you working hard and studying science every day?
I am passionate about science. It is incredibly exciting to work at the cutting edge of discovery. It is also very satisfying to watch trainees develop into outstanding scientists.
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