How to Become a Scientist

Born in Trinidad and Tobago, Dr. Shelley Ann des Etages immigrated to the United States in 1986 and received her B.Sc. in Biology from Pace University and a Ph.D. at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. Now a Senior Principal Scientist at Pfizer's Global Research & Development headquarters in Groton, Connecticut, Dr. des Etages seeks to understand the mechanisms of disease and cellular processes, using molecular and cellular biology. This allows her to assist in the identification of potential drug targets and biomarkers that help validate the effectiveness of new drug candidates in treating disease.

Outside of the laboratory, she regularly participates in educational outreach in the local schools through Career Day, tutoring, science demonstrations and Junior Achievement programs. Dr. des Etages is also a supporter of Writers Block Ink, an organization that helps instill drive in young people through creative pursuits. Additionally, she enjoys photography, painting, and gardening, and even plays a little piano.
  • Transcript


Topic: How to Become a Scientist

Shelley des Etages: So for anyone who wants to become a research scientist I would say, nurture your questioning spirit, if you will.  Because it's all about asking questions and it's all about really thinking and critically thinking about information.  So I would say nurture those skills.  Go volunteer in the lab to do research at an academic institution and get into the feel.  Because they're the technical skills that you want to learn and set up as a basis, but you also want to think about processing the data, processing information, asking questions about what's known, what's not known?  What's understood, what's not understood?  How can I approach this?  Feed yourself.  There are so many places to get information.  You've got the science journals, the nature journals.  Those are tough to read as a high-schooler, but you've got chronicles of science education.  You've got all these web sites that you can go to and just collect information.  If there's something that you've been curious about, find out more.  Dig into the scientific questions you have in your own life.  Just jump in and dig in.

Recorded on: 06/25/2008