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In the Spotlight: Sophie Liu, Ph.D.

One postdoc learns what matters to her most and finds work she truly enjoys, through networking

Stanford Affiliation: Postdoctoral Scholar
Department: Biochemistry
Degree: Ph.D.
Industry: Biotechnology
Bay Area DNA Sequencing Company

I knew that academia was not for me not too long after I started my post-doc training in a very competitive lab. I enjoyed what I did, which was a kind of fundamental biophysical research. I developed the traits of problem solving, thinking broadly and narrowly within my scientific field. However, I always felt that wasn’t the way I wanted to be; I wanted to do something more innovative and applicable, something that one day I could claim I have contributed to that is more directly impacting human kind than basic research.
Through a network event, I got to know about a startup DNA sequencing company is looking for someone to work on their new project, which is to generate a relative cheap platform for aiding the personalized medicine in near future. I got absolutely fascinated by the idea of working in a corporate environment, and using my knowledge to contribute to the next wave of medical trend. After three on-site interviews, I positioned myself as a physical scientist, and became the first hired scientist on that grant. Within my first month working, I filed my first invention disclosure form, and the excitement of that for me is absolutely different from paper publishing in academia life.
Through the process, I came to understand it’s not about finding “a job” as much as it is about learning what matters most to you, since only work you truly enjoy will get your full affection and help you become the best at what you do. By putting the most effective energy into it, you can achieve more in the end. Good luck!

Sophie Liu
May 2008

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