I am the Associate Director of Postdoctoral Affairs at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and I serve as an advocate, resource, and central point of contact for the UIC postdoctoral community. Although my days are now filled with engaging postdocs, answering buckets of emails, attending meetings, organizing events, etc. what took me here is a long winding scientific road. I have a B.Sc. in Biochemistry with an emphasis on plant molecular biology. Out of university I helped organize a European conference about the role of science in society. I then obtained a PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences looking at neuroprotective plant compounds against alcohol neurotoxicity, and finally completed postdoctoral training in human behavioral pharmacology. Thanks to my background I can easily engage postdocs from all walks of life: postdocs who work in the greenhouse, postdocs in biological safety cabinets doing cell culture, or postdocs who work with humans (why can’t humans be on time like rodents?!).
I am really glad that my office and the UIC Postdoctoral Association partnered with the Chicago Women in STEM Initiative to spearhead the Chicago Women in STEM symposium because there are many issues impacting women in research today, some of which hit really close to home. My wife is an NIH funded research assistant professor who has built a remarkable research program on the effects of sex differences and sex hormones on brain activity during impulse control as it relates to drug and alcohol abuse. It was always clear from the moment we met that her career would take priority over mine because she is ambitious, has continuously been funded since graduate school, and she is just generally kick-ass at what she does. I learned at the Chicago Women in STEM symposium that supporting her career makes me a #heforshe partner – which I’m really proud to be!