Name: Dr. Keith R. Brunt
Field of Work: Stem Cells & Regenerative Medicine
Place of Birth: Wadena, Saskatchewan
Your job title: Research Fellow
What is a Research Fellow?
A research fellow is someone who has completed a doctorate at a university (usually a PhD or MD). Often this person wants to establish a career in research. It is a temporary position, that allows you to work beside and be mentored by well established scientists.
What is a typical day like for you?
A typical day for a research fellow begins around 8 or 9 am. We conduct experiments, collect results and perform data analysis. I also meet often to help students and technicians with their research projects. Most nights are spent reading or writing research papers. A typical day for a research fellow is usually 10 - 12 hours long (sometimes more). Though that may seem like a lot, we are very passionate about science and enjoy doing it.
Did you always want to be a Research Fellow?
Actually, when I was in high school I wanted to be a Chiropractor. By the time I was in my third and fourth year of undergrad I found doing research very interesting. I loved the idea of putting new information into a text book rather than just reading one.
What courses in high school prepared you for this field?
Chemistry, Biology, Math (ie Calculus/Statistics), and Physics
Where did you go to university/college?
University of Saskatchewan for my undergraduate degree (BSc),
Queen’s University for my doctorate (PhD).
How did you decide where to go?
Proximity, reputation and finding a scientist to work with.
Was there extra training required for this career after you finished college/university? If so, what?
A research fellowship is often the extra training needed to become a university professor, industrial or clinical research scientist.
What is the coolest part of your job?
I never, ever, ever get bored.
What’s the worst part of your job?
Being a researcher takes time, criticism and the patience to overcome experiments that don’t work. Experiments are not easy, if they were someone else would likely have done them already. Criticism from your peers and mentors is part of the scientific process.
This means you must always be improving yourself and your science; its hard work. It takes time to complete a doctorate and a research fellowship, you may not be in a stable financial position for 10-12 years after high-school; therefore, passion is a pre-requisite.
What’s the salary range for this particular job and field?
$35k to $60k depending on experience, funding sources and institutional requirements. Most careers available after a research fellowship start in the $60k to $90k range depending on whether you choose to work in a public or private sector. However, tenure (academia only), benefits, pension or stock options(private only) are incentives that often attract the best and brightest.
Ooooops! Everyone makes mistakes so what was the dumbest thing you've ever done at work?
There are so many in science its hard to choose, but I think one of the worst was misspelling my own name on a scholarship application.
Any advice that you would give others seeking a similar career?
Start early in science, volunteer, wash dishes, anything to get into a research lab as soon as possible to find what you like.
What are some great web-links or references for someone interested in reading more about this career?
What celebrity do you most resemble?
Neil Patrick Harris
You just won a million dollars. What’s the first thing you’d do?
Go to work . . . just kidding . . .I’d write a research paper from home
What do you think’s really at the end of a rainbow?
The same thing as the beginning and the middle
Tattoos: cool or uncool?
What’s your favorite cartoon character?