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Graduate Education

Advice for my grad school self

C&EN’s Talented 12 and CAS SciFinder Future Leaders share what they wish they had known in grad school

by Linda Wang
September 9, 2018 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 96, Issue 36


If you could go back to grad school, what do you wish you had known? We asked this question of members of our Talented 12 (T12) and the CAS SciFinder Future Leaders (SFFL). Here are their words of wisdom. Share your advice on social media using the hashtag #chemgradlife.

Pushing yourself past what you think your limit is is worth it; you are capable of more than you know.
Nicole Gaudelli, senior scientist at Beam Therapeutics, T12 ’18


Always be informed! Not only should you care about the specific research of your Ph.D. but also about emerging issues in related fields, as these will define the research of the future and sources of funding.
Jesús Esteban Serrano, postdoc at Max Planck Institute for Chemical Energy Conversion, CAS SFFL ’18


Attend more seminars from outside your subfield. It will help you be creative with your research ideas later on.
Joseph Moran, assistant professor at the University of Strasbourg, T12 ’18


I wish I would have realized sooner how important time away from the lab was, since the benefits vastly outweigh the small loss of hours at the bench.
Julian West, postdoc at California Institute of Technology, CAS SFFL ’18


Grad school is a very long roller-coaster ride filled with ups and downs. Never make life-changing decisions when riding downhill.
Luisa Whittaker-Brooks, assistant professor at the University of Utah, T12 ’18


Don’t be afraid to fail. Not only will it happen a lot, but you also get the opportunity to learn from it and maybe even discover something interesting.
Roxanne Kieltyka, assistant professor at Leiden University, T12 ’18


Document every success, even the little ones, and start your own box of Post-it Note happy thoughts so that on the worst days you’ll be reminded that life is good, that you love what you do, and that sometimes you’re good at it ... sometimes.
Jana Markley, postdoc at Washington University in St. Louis, CAS SFFL ’18


Think outside the box and don’t be afraid of being different (being normal is boring).
Mónica Pérez-Temprano, group leader at the Institute of Chemical Research of Catalonia, T12 ’18


Spend time building networks, learning skills, and gaining experiences outside of research in preparation for life after your Ph.D.
Jeffrey Mak, postdoc at the University of Queensland, CAS SFFL ’17


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