When you were a child, what was your response to this question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
Describe your research in five words.
“Fat freaks out your pancreas.”
A scientist — it has always been a scientist. Sure, the specific discipline has changed over time (marine biology, forensics, environmental science, nutrition), but I have always been interested in figuring out how the world around me works.
Share the pivotal moment in your life that helped you choose research as a career path.
When I was an associate scientist at Pfizer in Groton, Connecticut, I attended a lecture given by Dr. Elizabeth Parks on how humans taste fat — and it blew my mind. That was the first time I heard of the concept of nutrition as a scientific discipline and it clicked with me. I immediately began looking at graduate school research programs for biochemical and molecular nutrition.
What’s an interesting thing that’s happened during your research?
One time in the lab, I mixed up the “stir” and “heat” knobs on a stir plate. I came back into lab after lunch to find my experiment had completely melted into a gooey charred mess on the stir plate. To this day, the fridge smells of burnt plastic. Sorry, Dr. Buhman!
What advice would you give to up-and-coming female researchers in your field?
Maintain a good work/life balance. Having a hobby (for me it’s rock climbing) helps keep everything in perspective, helps you connect with new and interesting people, and keeps you grounded in what is important in life.