NIH BEST has 6 new bloggers! Stay tuned to read posts from all of them.

 In PhD/Postdoc Blog

Meet the Bloggers

We have a new set of Bloggers starting this month and I wanted to take the time to introduce them to you. They each answered a few questions so you could get to know them better.

As usual, the BEST trainees will have a new blog post each Wednesday. However, this time we have something new for you. Two of the bloggers are from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. They will be publishing one the first and third Friday of the month. I am excited to hear about the career development opportunities they are exposed to at Hopkins. Their blogs will be published on Fridays.

Name: Irfana Muqbil


Irfana Muqbil

Publishing: First Wednesday of the month
Institution: University of Detroit Mercy/ Wayne State University
Position and year: Postdoctoral training fellow, the first year of my second postdoc

Favorite books: animal farm, Veronica decides to die
Favorite Quote: “treat others the way you want to be treated.”
The best thing I ever ate: spaghetti in Florence Italy
What is your dream job? teacher/professor
What do you do for fun? Go for a walk or bike ride with my kids.
What I like best about science is it is relevant to our everyday lives, and you can make a connection.


Name: Leah Cairns


Leah Cairns

Publishing: First Friday of the month
Institution: Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
Position and year: 5th year Ph.D. student

Favorite book: Pride and Prejudice (I actually became an English minor mostly because I wanted to take a 400 level Jane Austin class…).
Favorite TV show: Lately I’ve been into The Americans, Westworld, and Game of Thrones.
Favorite word: ameliorate which is just a fancy word for make better, but it makes me think of one of my favorite movies growing up, Amelie.
What is your dream job (real or made up)? I’m still trying to figure out what my dream job is, but I think it’d be pretty cool to run a large nonprofit that funds scientific research.
What I like best about science is I learn something new every week! I will hopefully continue when I leave the bench.


Name: Sam Honeycutt

Sam honeycut

Sam Honeycutt

Publishing: Second Wednesday of the month
Institution: University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill Medical School, Biological and Biomedical Sciences Program (BBSP) (Applying to Pharmacology Department in Spring)
Position and year: 1st Year Ph.D. Student

Favorite book: This changes a lot, but currently it would be “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” By Milan Kundera
Favorite movie: Forrest Gump
Favorite TV show: Lost, or maybe Parks and Rec
Favorite quote: “When you choose a thankless job, you can’t be upset when nobody thanks you.” – Ron Swanson
Favorite word: Honestly, I would also probably pick ameliorate. I feel like I have used this word so much, and it often means something good happened when you get to use it!
The best thing I ever ate… Baked Camembert with locally baked fresh bread, Garlic, and Rosemary at Le Lion D’or in Saint-Malo, France. Unbelievable. Savory, melted and gooey on a chilly November night. Perfect.
What makes you laugh? My Wife and our ridiculous cat.
Who is your hero? Craig Venter / Elon Musk
What did you want to be growing up? Everything…Jet fighter pilot, cop, chemist, Race car driver, Mechanic, Nat. Geo. photographer…pretty much anything technical or adventurous.
What is your dream job (real or made up)? This may seem kind of boring, but I want to be a PI and run my own lab and do really great science….also the Elon musk thing the other guy said.
What do you do for fun? I like to work on our cars, build small autonomous robots (BEAM), I am learning Arduino (To build bigger robots!) and am learning to play the banjo and of course, watching college basketball.
What I like best about science is pretty much everything. I enjoy the moments when an experiment works, and you get really interesting data that you can’t stop thinking about.
Anything else? I dropped out of high school after the ninth grade and am in my 30s. I earned my GED and B.S. then worked for Big 5 Pharma for ten years before returning to school. I love grad school, but it definitely has a lot of different challenges when you are a bit non-traditional.


Name: Sarah Dimitratos

Sarah D Headshot 2018

Sarah Dimitratos

Publishing: Third Wednesday of the month
Institution: UC Davis
Position and year: First-year Ph.D. Student, Nutritional Biology

What makes you unique? I’m a lefty and I have scoliosis
Favorite book: Hmm, I can’t pick a single favorite, but I do love the author, Dean Koontz!
The best thing I ever ate… a dinner shared with loved ones (cheese, wine, spreads, and apple-braised pork chop from Wente Vineyards). This was the last dinner in CA before I spent a year living in NYC!
What makes you laugh? Jack, my 4-year-old black lab who still thinks he’s a puppy
What did you want to be growing up? First a NASA scientist (until I realized how math-heavy it is), then a marine biologist (thanks to the Monterey Bay Aquarium), and then a pediatric orthopedist (until I fell in love with nutrition)
What do you do for fun? Go to the gym, listen to podcasts, and cook for friends and family
What I like best about science is it allows me to be a detective and storyteller at the same time



Name: Erin Gallagher

Erin Gallagher

Erin Gallagher

Publishing: Third Friday of the month
Institution: Johns Hopkins University
Position and year: Sixth year Ph.D. student

 Favorite bookTerry Pratchett’s Thief of Time. I love how you can read his books over and over and still find new jokes.
Favorite TV show: Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. It is about a lady detective solving crime in 1920 Melbourne, Australia. It’s delightful and quite nice after a hard day in the lab. Its also on Netflix if anyone needs a pick-me-up.
The best thing I ever ate meat pies from Australian food carts. You buy them from the sketchiest cart on the street, and they’re full of butter and goodness. They were responsible for my pants being uncomfortably tight on the plane ride home.
What makes you laugh? My roommate’s cat doing ridiculous things.
What did you want to be growing up? Marine Biologist. That was until I went to California and spent some time at sea on a boat, which is terrifying. I promptly dropped any career that required me to be on a small boat, far from shore.
What is your dream job (real or made up)? Something that helps reduce the number of chemical weapons in the world.
What do you do for fun? I love fixing things, so lots of home repair. I also love to bike and swim.


Name: Matthew Davidson

Matthew Davidson

Matthew Davidson

Publishing: First Wednesday of the month
Institution: University of Colorado Denver
Position and year: Postdoc, 1st year

matts dogs

Matt’s dogs

Favorite book: Hyperion Cantos by Dan Simmons
Favorite quote: “When push comes to shove, you gotta do what you love, even if it’s not a good idea” Hermes Conrad, Futurama
Favorite word: Phlogiston
The best thing I ever ate: Salmon Pad Thai at Fish Market in Reykjavik
What makes you laugh? When an absurd idea ends up working
What did you want to be growing up? A philanthropist (It was later pointed out to me that I needed to have money first…)
What is your dream job (real or made up)? Whatever it is that Elon Musk does where he just thinks of cool ideas and then gets to travel around doing fun stuff
What do you do for fun? Climb, hike, play games, travel, take photos
What I like best about science is seeing how excited people get when they learn some new sciency thing.
Anything else? My dogs are adorable:


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