What is your current job and what do you like about it?
I am: 1) A recent Ph.D. graduate, going to take on a new post-doc position. And 2) the Chief Science Officer at Hedgemon, LLC (http://hedgemon.net)
I like the job because it gives me a chance to make new discoveries. Believe it or not, every discovery resulted from basic research has a potential to inform real world applications. For example, in my doctoral research, we found that blue tarantulas may hold the secret to color our world differently one day. At my start-up company, we’re developing new impact/shock absorption technologies inspired by hedgehog.
What is a typical day like for you?
As a Biomimicry Fellow, there’s no “typical day” for me. In some days, I may end up doing experiments and getting results all day in the lab. In other days, I might be running around attending different kinds of meetings with people from all walks of life, e.g., attending product development brainstorming sessions, hosting Biomimicry workshops, giving presentations/lectures in both professional and outreach events, developing business plans for my start-up company, etc.
When you were a kid what did you want to be and if it wasn’t a scientist, what was it and why did you change your mind?
Influenced by my family, I dreamt to be a fighter jet pilot when I was young. However, my interests in Biology started to come out when I was in junior high. Encouraged by my teacher, and motivated by the novel/movie of Jurassic Park, I embarked on the journey to becoming a scientist (Biologist).
What did you do to get your current job, what kind of education did you need?
To become a post-doc researcher, of course, you’ll need a Ph.D. degree first. To become a Chief Science Officer in a company, you’ll need some degree of post-graduate level training in a STEM field. However, to do something related to Biomimicry as a career, there are no defined paths, as Biomimicry needs people with all kinds of different skill sets, you just need to find the path that suit you the best.
Tell us something fun about yourself? and it doesn’t have to be about science?
There is a pet tarantula whose name is Harriet (the Spy…der) from a lab member. Harriet became my responsibility when its former owner left the lab. On a Friday evening, after an exhausting week in the lab, I fed Harriet some crickets, but forgot to close the lid of its enclosure behind me. The next Monday morning when I came in the lab, the first thing that I noticed is that the stuff on my desk got moved, then I noticed there are spider silks everywhere on my desk. That’s when I realized that Harriet broke out from its enclosure and now nowhere to be found. We tried to lure it back in the next couple days before we finally gave up. Then a month or two later, it was found in the hallway outside of the lab and got returned safe and sound.
PS. A tarantula can survive several months without food.