Tenacity is a trait common among PhDs. The drive to find answers, solve problems, develop solutions, or improve upon what is already established and or commonplace. For Cathy Dundon the PhD journey begins with an early introduction into the wonders of cells and DNA. Her curiosity leads to a PhD and then to working to solve problems as industry looks to alternatives to hydrocarbon based packaging and fuels. The journey now is focused on helping other scientists realize their dreams of making the world a better place.
Samer Hijazi can point to a Japanese cartoon for being the inspiration for his pursuit of a PhD in Electrical Engineering. The cartoon was about a robot that understood what he was being told, but didn’t speak, but serves the greater good. This is the starting line for a love of technology and inspired a desire to build robots. Eventually the path leads to improvements to wireless communication networks and finally to a career focused on improving the ability for computers to better understand what people are really talking about.
The adventures of Gabrielle Palmer are rooted in her childhood. An early love of art carried her through college studies, taking her to Ecuador and Spain, and inspiring her to lead the restoration of an 18th Century Spanish Church sitting in Downtown Sante Fe, New Mexico. Along the way she met a king, led the efforts to save the. historic trail of the Spanish, and continues to explore the wonders of art.
Peter McGraw's PhD journey, both to the dissertation and after has taken him around the world. Pretty exciting for a guy with an interest for quantitative psychology and an understanding of why people make the decisions they do,. Then there's the whole interest in what makes something funny. but don't laugh, it was all part of the plan. Peter's website https://www.petermcgraw.org Twitter - @PeterMcGraw
Robin O’Keefe knew at a young age what he wanted to do with his life, the problem was his older self didn’t listen at first. But it all turned out for the best and Robin is doing exactly what he was meant to do, a paleontologist that teaches a lot of general biology classes, including human anatomy. WHAT?! There have also been some adventures, like the time he was in the African desert at the beginning of the Gulf War. Hunting for dinosaur bones is exciting.
The ability to push through obstacles is a defining quality in Donna Halper’s PhD journey. She had a goal of being on the radio and a bunch of college boys in the 60s were not going to keep her from her dream. When Donna realized the radio industry was changing she decided a new path was to be followed and she could use her radio past to build her future. The ultimate goal would require some work though, a dissertation, something that would be a challenge for Donna almost 35 years removed from her undergrad. http://www.donnahalper.com Twitter link @DevorahLeah
The PhD journey for Dr. Rochelle Dalla has been focused on women who have found themselves on the margins of society; first Native American teenage mothers and then sex workers in the middle of America and then India. These are women that find themselves in constant states of crisis and for Rochelle she has found a passion for telling their stories. But this wasn’t the plan, but there wasn’t a plan for Rochelle and this journey’s is justification for not having a plan, because it can open you to great possibilities.
Sometimes the journey to a PhD has nothing to do with the PhD at all, it has to do with the ultimate goal. For Paige Backlund Jarquin her journey to her PhD started with a realization she wanted to work to improve the public health system. Now the statement of the goal wasn’t immediate, it took some time and a relocation to Washington, D.C. It was working in the trenches of public health when she had her, for lack of a better term, epiphany, and knew in order to reach the goal she would have to get her PhD.
David Conti’s path to his PhD started when he discovered he quite liked the way genetics helped him answer some of the questions he had about the world around him. It started with butterflies and then moved onto to identifying disease characteristics in our own genome. (I think I got this right.) Now his work finds him being more of a computer programer and statistician as he works to help identify how genetics impacts disease.