My name is Stephanie Moss and I am a student member of the Society for In Vitro Biology. The 2005 annual meeting in Baltimore was the first major scientific meeting that I attended and the “free student registration” of the SIVB helped to cover part of my expenses for this meeting. I am very thankful for the corporate support that has been provided to pay for my registration expense. While at this meeting, several SIVB officers introduced themselves to me and asked me where I was from and what my research interest was. This was a good question because just a couple of years ago, I would have never considered research as an employment option. The following is how I discovered that being a research scientist is the career path that is perfect for me.
I grew up in Winnfield, Louisiana, a small rural town in the North Central part of the state. I was successful in my years in the Winnfield public schools and was accepted into the Gifted and Talented programs and graduated Salutatorian of my senior class. At a young age, I knew I wanted to become a surgeon because my grandfather was a surgeon so my family wanted me to follow in his footsteps. In high school, I began to question whether or not this was what I really wanted to do. I loved science but I was not convinced that medicine as a career would make me happy. Nonetheless, after meeting with my high school academic counselor, becoming a medical doctor seemed to be the only reasonable option for someone with the grades and interest in science that I had. Becoming a research scientist was never an option because I had no idea that one could go to college to train for such a career. I know that must sound absurd to some, nobody in my home town of Winnfield selected research science as a career path.
When I was accepted to college with a full paid academic scholarship, I entered the pre-medical program along with the courses required for a major in biological sciences. In the spring of my junior year, I took the course, Vertebrate Physiology. The lab instructor for that class talked to me along with my fellow classmates about summer research internships for credit hours. I was told that participating in such a program would look great on a medical school application. I followed this advice and found a research position for the summer and discovered that I really enjoyed this type of work. I expressed this to my summer internship advisor, Dr. Barbara Triplett, and she talked to me about different opportunities leading to a research career. I chose to apply for a position in the Graduate School at the University of New Orleans and was accepted into the Master’s Program in Biology in which I am currently involved.
If I had never heard about the summer research internships I would probably not be involved in research at this point in my life. I am very grateful to the people who unknowingly changed my life by informing me about research as a career option. I feel that I have made a great decision to follow a research career path because it has been very rewarding. I would like for the many bright students in rural high schools to be aware of the opportunity and experience research as I did. Medicine is a great career but now I appreciate that behind a medical doctor is a research scientist hard at work answering questions and developing technologies that the medical community, general public, and government can use to its advantage.
My goal is to graduate with a Master of Sciences in Biotechnology and to continue my education in a Ph.D program. I am currently working on my thesis research in the Cotton Fiber Bioscience lab at the United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Southern Regional Research Center in New Orleans, Louisiana led by Dr. Barbara Triplett. I feel lucky that I had the opportunity to become involved in research because it turned into my career of choice. I hope that my story can be an inspiration to others to also consider research as a career choice. Now, after attending the SIVB meeting, I realize that there are so many other avenues available to students like myself interested in a research career.