Editor of two (!) synthetic biology blogs and not afraid to move cross-country AND cross-discipline: Aakriti Jain.
What is your background in science (and otherwise)? Why are you motivated to work on this topic? What do you hope to accomplish during your PhD?
My background is in chemical engineering but I got interested in synthetic biology during my undergraduate, while working in Jay Keasling’s lab at UC Berkeley. I’m thankful for this experience as it introduced me to the world of biological research(which, in my opinion, is vastly different from high school classroom biology). It was through this introduction into biology (from an engineer’s perspective) that motivated me to explore more cellular metabolism, since I found out quickly that this was an important, and sometimes limiting, aspect of synthetic biology.
Hopefully during my PhD I will not only learn some pretty cool techniques and develop amazing science, but also gain more confidence in my scientific knowledge.
What led you to decide to do a PhD?
As an engineer, I always thought I would go straight into industry, but thankfully I decided to do a Master’s before entering the corporate workforce and quickly realized that academia is where my passions lie (at least for now!)
It hasn’t been that long since we were interviewing for PhDs; what are some pointers you would give to students looking for a PhD to do during their undergraduate or Master’s?
Ask every scientist in your life to help you find the perfect PhD for you. Luckily (or not) science is a really collaborative endeavour, and scientists always know of other scientists and other opportunities. Ask them advice on institutes as well as professional colleagues. Apart from this, and more importantly, take some time to think deeply about what you want to spend the next 3-4 years working on. This will be your project and it should be something that motivates you every day!
What are your short-term and long-term career goals (aka, what do you want to be “when you grow up” 😉 )?
Short-term goals: sit in seminars and understand the whole presentation instead of only bits and pieces, and be able to ask interesting and significant questions.
Long-term goals: I love the idea of working on my own project, but I haven’t decided whether that will be in the form of staying in academia or something more start-up related.
What do you like to do for fun (outside of science, of course)?
What is your favourite food?