I was born/grew up in: Chanute Air Force Base, Rantoul, Illinois. Grew Up: New York, New England, and Ontario
I now live in: London, Ontario
I completed my training/education at: BSc, PhD University of Guelph; postdoctoral fellowship University of Washington; postdoctoral fellowship and first faculty position Medical College of Wisconsin; Cardiovascular Research Center Director at West Virginia University HSC; then recruited to Western
Describe what you do at work.
We do a lot of different research using models of human disease (I need to be a bit vague for obvious reasons). My job requires I know about biology, chemistry, physics, physiology, chaos theory, biostatistics, pharmacology, etc. We use specialized surgical equipment, microscopes, equipment to measure cardiovascular function, imaging equipment (it is a very long list). I enjoy very difficult, abstract problems. Things where a lot of variables are changing in both space and time. I have to make decisions constantly. The process is simple...take what you know, what you "think" and then take your best shot. If you are wrong, try again. I work as part of a team and as an individual investigator as well. Different approaches for different problems, but clear and free communication is always vital.
When I was a student I enjoyed:
How does your job affect people’s lives?
We work to identify how we can correct the symptoms and poor health outcomes associated with cardiovascular disease risk. This impacts a large number of people and we are working to try to reduce that.
What motivates you in your career?
I love the freedom and flexibility to use my creativity and imagination to learn and understand how systems work (and fail). I hate structure and do not particularly enjoy sitting in classrooms. My career has allowed me to operate almost entirely within my own flexibility.
When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:
Describe your career path to this career.
Mostly, I made sure to never close doors and never made a decision I could not reverse. In my education I completed an undergraduate degree in science and two graduate degrees. This was followed by two postdoctoral fellowships, and then 20 years of "training and education". Unusual Twists and Turns: of course. All do. I NEVER thought I would be back in Canada but some opportunities just develop out of nowhere. How I ended up in this career is a bit interesting. This was my 2nd backup plan. Once pro football was out, I wanted to be a cosmologist. But couldn't handle the math. Since I have always loved biology I started down that path instead. I’ve had a number of challenges and failures along the way – we all do. But you pick yourself up and start fighting again. What other choice do you have - to accept failure???
What activities do you like to do outside of work?
I used to run the hockey program at a major American University before coming here. That was fun. I hike, golf, and travel to my kid's unending sports activities.... I like to travel with my family (National Parks). I volunteer when asked, but am looking for more opportunities. It can be hard to jam that into a day.
What advice or encouragement would you give others seeking a similar career?
Stick with it. It is a very long and hard road to get here, but it is totally worth it if you can make it through. It really is a great career if you are the right person.