Brian '14

1. Is where you are currently where you thought you would end up?

Not at first – when I first arrived at Pomona, I wanted to be an orthodontist. However, I changed my mind during my time at Pomona, and now I am where I thought I would be!

2. How did you land you are your current role?

I came to my current role through two major experiences, plus the support of my advisers at Pomona: first, my Calculus II H course with Professor Shahriari taught me that I truly love mathematics and problem-solving. Second, a summer research internship in cancer research taught me that I want to be involved in cutting-edge public health research.

3. What is the most important leadership lesson you've learned and how is it valuable?

The most important lesson I’ve learned is to advocate for yourself and take advantage of the opportunities available to you: especially at Pomona, incredible opportunities are waiting for you to jump into. But you have to take the initiative!

4. What advice can you offer on how to progress in your chosen field/career?

Always keep in mind the motivation that originally brought you to research – sometimes, when you’re in the midst of a project, it is hard to keep the big picture in mind and you find your work difficult. Having the big picture motivation in mind helps with each step of the research process!

5. How would you describe your personal style? (in work/work-life balance)

I’m still figuring out my work-life balance. There is a lot of pressure in academia to push the balance quite far towards work and away from other activities. However, it is highly important to take some time away from your research – often, you may solve a problem more easily by stepping away from it for a time!

6. What do you wish you knew when you were a student at Pomona that you know now?

I wish I knew better how excited the Pomona professors were to help advance my career. I learned this late in my time at Pomona, but if I had known even as a first- or second-year student I think that I could have jumped more quickly into cool research opportunities.

7. What Motivates You?

Professionally, I’m motivated by solving public health problems that have a real-world impact on people’s lives. Personally, I’m motivated my deepening my connections with others and having a positive impact I’m my community.

8. What does a day in your life look like?

A typical day for me, right now, is: prepare materials for the course I’m teaching; interact with students both in a traditional lecture style and a more active learning-based style; either run experiments on my computer or do some mathematical calculations related to my dissertation; and have meetings with collaborators about cool scientific projects.

9. What are some lessons you've learned the hard way?

I have learned the hard way that it is easy to not protect time for yourself if you are excited about your work. I’ve gone through periods of intense stress because I took on too many projects because I was interested in all of them, but the combination led to far too much work. Sometimes, you have to say no!

10. How did you go about organizing your time while at Pomona? Did you plan everything or go with the flow?

I’m a planner by nature, but I definitely revised that plan based on experiences that I had while at Pomona. Since I was on the swim team in addition to doing my coursework, I had to schedule my time fairly rigorously so that I could meet all of my commitments. I’d say to make a plan, but definitely keep your mind open!