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Harry Gray shares his advice for new professors

Caltech chemist reflects on his first years as an independent researcher

October 18, 2017

Credit: C&EN

Harry Gray remembers the pressure of starting an independent career in chemistry. He took it in stride, eventually becoming a pioneer of bioinorganic chemistry and an esteemed professor at California Institute of Technology. Gray reflected on what he learned in those early days and shared that wisdom with a new generation of principal investigators (PIs) during an Aug. 21 presentation at the American Chemical Society national meeting in Washington, D.C.

“When you’re wrong and you make a mistake and you go back and correct it, new fields open up; it’s a great thing,” he said to an audience that included C&EN’s 2017 Talented 12 rising stars in chemistry. “Don’t be afraid of making mistakes.”

The self-described “crazy nutcase inorganic chemist” reflected on several seminal moments from his first years, including an early resolution to “put the bonds back into molecules” and his first steps into bioinorganic chemistry.

Gray shared how key choices he made leading his first research group shaped his career path. Watch this video to hear all of Gray’s advice from the fall meeting.

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