We asked the members of the in silico Plants editorial board about the experience that has had the biggest impact on their career. This is what they said:
A key moment was attending the ‘Mathematical modelling of plant development and gene networks’ meeting in Warwick in 2004, in the final few months of my PhD. It was a great meeting scientifically, opened up new contacts, and later I learned that it was a crucial element on my CV that helped get me a postdoc job, leading to a fellowship and setting up my academic career. This was all because one of the academics in my PhD department was due to go but couldn’t, and luckily nominated me instead since they knew I was interested in the area – – make sure people know what your interests are!
Dr. Miriam Gifford
Reader & Deputy Head of School | School of Life Sciences | University of Warwick
It’s hard to pin-point a specific experience, but if I had to choose I’d say that my attendance at the 2012 PEPG workshop in Portugal has had the biggest impact on my career. I had been away from academic research for two years and re-connecting with my subject through cutting-edge lectures and hands-on practicals, as well as learning from top researchers in the field was a real turning point for me. Not long after this workshop, I decided to leave my permanent position and apply as a postdoc to the Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency project in Illinois.
Dr. Johannes (Wanne) Kromdijk
Lecturer | Department of Plant Sciences | University of Cambridge
At every stage of my scientific career, I had a mentor encouraging me to reach higher. Their encouragement to accept challenges constantly shifted me out of my comfort zone, and helped me gain new perspectives. This really shaped my multidisciplinary career.
Dr. Amy Marshall-Colón
Assistant Professor | Department of Plant Biology | University of Illinois
The experience that affected my career was my first contact with research in biology in 1996. I studied computer science where I focused on procedural growth models with a purely computational (mathematical) point of view. During my PhD studies, I started a collaboration with Dr. Lubomir Natr who was an experimental biologist with a great insight into the practical problems that one encounters during lab and field work. It was my first and truly humbling encounter with a huge variety of forms and functions that one can see in Nature. It was an eye opening experience to see how simplified our models are as compared to what one can see in Nature. Ever since then I am very careful in making quick conclusions of simplified computational models that often excellently capture the essence of the problem but may not always reflect on the extremely complex interaction of the biological systems and their environment.
Dr. Bedrich Benes
George McNelly Professor of Technology and Computer Science | Department of Computer Graphics Technology | Purdue University
The decision to learn statistics and programming as a Ph.D. student in biology had a big impact on my career. At that time, I had the need to process and to analyze microarray data. It was not trivial to start but I soon benefited from this investment. I was able to freely mine my data as I needed! This experience encouraged me to further explore interdisciplinary research approaches in my future research, including mathematical modelling.
Dr. Yuling Jiao
Research Scientist | Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology | Chinese Academy of Sciences