Photo:

Laura Maliszewski

Bummed to be evicted!

Favourite Thing: miRNAs

My CV

School:

Governor’s School for Government and International Studies, 1994-7; Univeristy of Delaware 1997-2001; Harvard University Division of Medical Sciences Program in Virology 2001-8

University:

At UD I studied biology and concentrated on biotechnology and chemistry. At Harvard I studied virology and human immunology. I researched how HIV infection changes the infected cells and what it means for the infected person.

Work History:

Postdoc at the Immune Disease Institute in Boston Mass

Employer:

British Consulate-General Boston

Current Job:

Officer, Science and Innovation

Me and my work

I’m a classically trained American molecular biologist/virologist who now works for the UK government to build and support academic collaborations in the life sciences.

As a kid (and really even now as something closer to a grown-up) I was always interested in how things worked, from lawn mowers to medicines. I spent a lot of time watching the US TV shows about science and nature like Mr. Wizard and NOVA. I was always getting into trouble if left to my own devices, so my parents kept me in summer classes where I learned photography, physics, weaving, metal smithing and stained glass among other things. 

When I finally went for my PhD, I took a long time. I’m very easily interested in new things, and not so great and exploring one eensy weensy problem. In my position as a Science and Innovation Officer, I have to learn about a wide range of topics, from biofuels to synthetic biology, and be able to speak to them with some authority. I spend my days talking to scientists about their work and talking to people in central government about what questions they think are important for the UK. Then we try to support collaborations between the best UK and US scientists to push the field forward!

My job is challenging (especially as an American learning the UK system!) and a lot of fun. I travel to scientific conferences, talk to fascinating people and use all of the knowledge that I’ve acquired to hopefully improve society and accelerate the pace of scientific research.

My Typical Day

I follow new scientific discoveries in my region and build collaborations between US and UK scientists.

I don’t really have a typical day, every day is a new adventure! Some days I walk around MIT or Harvard or travel to Yale or Cornell to talk to scientists about their work and how they can work with people in the UK.  I share information about small grants to support international collaboration and listen to people’s ideas as to how government can support scientific research for the public good.

Some days I sit in the consulate and make calls to people in BIS or the TSB to learn about their priorities so I can find US resources that might be helpful to them. Other days I write reports on meetings I’ve attended or on new sceintific papers that are of interest to the people that I work with and for. Every day I spend some time reading up on new scientific discoveries and looking for opportunites for international collaboration.

Every year I get to visit the UK to talk to UK scientists. Although my network has officers like me in 40 places around the world, we don’t have anyone in the UK, so I meet with UK scientists about their research ideas and get to tour cool facilities like the Diamond synchetron and ISIS. I’ve also been to the Addenbrooks Lab for Regenerative Medicine and hope to visit UCL in June.

So far I’ve gotten to meet several members of the Royal Society and the US National Academy, as well as Prince Michael of Kent, HM Ambassador to the US, Sir Nigel Shienwald, former minister David Miliband and Lord Paul Dreyson, but my favorite thing to do is to talk to researchers about their favorite topic: themselves (or more presicely, their research)!

What I'd do with the money

There’s money? I thought this was just for fun!

Probably support a local student goup to increase contact between scientists and policy makers in some fun way

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

world’s worst speller

Who is your favourite singer or band?

What is the most fun thing you've done?

In 2008 I got to ski the olympic cross-country course in Whistler, too bad it was only my second time on skis-ouch!

If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!

1. To be a little bit taller 2. To have a little house on the shore 3. World peace? I guess I really only have two!

What did you want to be after you left school?

A Pharmacologist, but I’m no good at Chemistry!

Were you ever in trouble at school?

Yup, I was in trouble in highschool for cutting classes (it was studyhall, kind of unfair!) and had to clean bathrooms for a week!

What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?

I designed a set of experiments to work out if a reagent we used in the lab was made properly. It sounds like a small thing, but experiments are only as good as the reagents that are used in them and this one was a tricky problem!

Tell us a joke.

Zero walks up the eight and says “hey- where did you get that belt?”