Typical day on the job:
Difficult to do since everyday is unique but at least 75% time spent in research and the rest of time is education, and service. I apply my research skills towards various diseases and have collaborators in Switzerland, Brazil, Nigeria, and USA. I work with a group of highly dedicated team of scientists that works on developing new vaccines and therapeutics for neglected tropical diseases. Research time includes supervising others as well as wet lab or in silico work. Increasingly, more of my time is spent writing papers and grants. Active research projects include structural characterization of proteins relevant to neglected tropical diseases, as well as structure based drug development for bacterial and host proteins. I also have a lot of meetings, which are important for my job.
I typically work about 60 to 70 hours every week. My work is flexible and after collecting data, I can work anywhere in the world as long as I have my laptop. I occasionally travel for meetings but often Skype suffices for keeping in touch with collaborators all over the world.
I am not required to travel.
Tools you can’t live without:
My Macbook pro is my mobile laboratory and allows me to work anywhere in the world. For crystallography and structure determination, I use Pymol, CCP4, Phenix, and an X-ray source. For other tasks I use Microsoft office.
Best productivity trick:
I spend a lot of time planning before implementing anything. I believe in training personnel properly and then allowing them independence to work, which promotes creativity and productivity. For my continued growth, I take advantage of the faculty development programs that we have at Baylor College of Medicine to become a better educator and researcher.
Best career advice you’ve received:
When I was in elementary school my parents always told me "What's worth doing at all is worth doing well"
Skills or talents that make you a good fit for your job:
I am a team player, I learn new things very easily, and I am passionate about my work and its potential to improve lives.
Essential habit you wish you’d started earlier:
Planning each day in advance and saying no to last minute requests.
Favorite ACS resource:
Project SEED. I am committed to STEM education and I coordinate a summer research internship for high-school students funded by the Project SEED, the summer research internship program for economically disadvantaged high school students. Since 2001 I have had SEED students in my laboratory and the opportunity to work with the next generation of scientists is amazing.
How you've benefited from being an ACS member:
Also, when I was chair of the ACS Omaha Local Section, I enjoyed the interactions I had with other ACS members.