EEB and MB Graduate Student Organizations

Name: Daniel Neafsey

Job Title: Associate Director, Genomic Center for Infectious Disease

Company: Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard

Basic job description: I help to coordinate a group of researchers studying infectious disease genomics in a non-profit research institute setting, and also run my own research group as a PI. Many responsibilities are similar to those of an academic PI. I apply for grants, publish papers, give talks, attend conferences, manage employees, and mentor postdocs. I also interact with scientific groups within the Broad to explore new technologies with applications to infectious disease. I manage projects that explore the interface between new technologies and important research questions.

What were your graduate studies in? What aspects of your graduate training do you feel have made you more successful in your position? My graduate studies were in population genetics and molecular evolution. I appreciate having the quantitative perspective that those subjects helped to instill in me. Having an evolutionary lens through which to interpret problems gives me a distinct perspective on some issues relative to colleagues.

What was your career path after leaving graduate school? I was in a short bridge postdoc with my PhD mentor for 5 months before coming to the Broad. I expected to find a traditional postdoc, and was in the process of applying for fellowships when I found an advertisement for a role at the Broad. These days, I think it would be harder to get a staff scientist role at the Broad without a formal postdoc.

What is the most challenging aspect of your job? What are your favorite aspects of your job? My favorite part of my job is having brainstorming sessions with collaborators around cool new things to do with technologies.

The most challenging aspect of my job is dealing with collaborator politics and management issues.

Do you have any other useful advice for graduate students interested in your field that hasn't been covered yet? Genomics is an exciting field, and it has applications to basic scientific research as well as diverse biomedical fields. There are rich opportunities in fields that are expanding.

Things that make a CV stand out for me include evidence of passion, such as personal investment in research experiences, awards resulting from interesting competitions, etc. CVs are less important than they used to be, though. Every decent CV leads to a Google search. If you made an inflammatory posting on SeqAnswers 2 years ago, I will find it and think twice. If you are active on Twitter and commenting on professional topics, I will find it and think that you might be passionate about your field.


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