Why did you choose Emory GDBBS for your graduate training?
Dr. Chen says he chose Emory for his graduate training for several reasons, both personal and professional. In addition to choosing Emory for the location in Atlanta, he also chose to attend Emory due to its strong reputation in the field of basic research. More specifically, the program he applied to (Cell Biology and Developmental Biology) had a robust faculty research focus in signal transduction, which was his main interest upon entering graduate school.
What advice would you give to current GDBBS students?
The major piece of advice Dr. Chen has for current students is to remember to learn how to ask broad scientific questions and how to develop them as individual projects. For looking beyond graduate school, Dr. Chen says don’t be afraid to explore other scientific fields outside the one you’re currently working in and don’t be afraid to create your own niche.
How did your GDBBS experience prepare you for your career?
As Dr. Chen is now a Professor in the Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology, he says his experience in GDBBS prepared him in three core areas. The first area was the training in grant writing. Dr. Chen was one of the first students to participate in the grant writing course many GDBBS students are familiar with today. As a result of taking this course, Dr. Chen says he built his confidence to communicate science and write grant applications. This was valuable to him in his postdoctoral training and beyond. In addition to preparation for writing grants, Dr. Chen says the student seminars were helpful in encouraging and motivating him to present scientific data as a complete story for a broad audience. These type of student seminars fostered a good environment to present research. Since Dr. Chen now also fills the role of a mentor, he says his experience with his graduate mentor, Dr. Haian Fu, and committee members highlighted what it means to be a patient mentor with strong communication skills, along with how to adapt to different mentoring styles.