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Careers in Science

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Careers in Science

Martha Rhodes
Microbiologist

How did you choose your present profession? What were your biggest motivators?
My interest in science was inspired by a couple of wonderful high school biology and chemistry instructors who took a special interest in me.  One of them encouraged me to attend a National Science Foundation Summer School at Virginia Tech.

Was there a pivotal event in your life that helped you decide on your career path?
For me, the NSF experience was the pivotal moment when I became committed to pursuing a science curriculum.  However, it was during my undergraduate work at Virginia Tech, that I became fascinated with microbiology due primarily to the contagious enthusiasm of Dr. Noel Krieg.

What has been the biggest surprise in your life as a scientist?
The biggest surprise was that one should be aware that published findings are not fixed absolutes. 

What would you recommend for students wanting to pursue a similar career?
Although it is essential to build a solid base of knowledge relative to science and math, it is imperative to learn how to write and speak in public.

What do you like best about your profession?
I enjoy the variety of tasks (field, lab, data analysis, writing, literature searches, etc...) and the thrill when “pieces” of the puzzle come together to tell a story.

What would you say has been your greatest achievement?
The translation and identification of two undescribed mycobacterial species pathogenic to fish was especially exciting.  However, this was an achievement shared with my colleagues.  This work has been particularly fascinating because of the relationship of these species to human mycobacterial pathogens.

Are you optimistic for the future of the planet and if so why?
Yes, I believe there is a growing awareness of how human activities impact the health of our planet.  Now there needs to be a commitment to temper the use of finite resources, and most importantly, employment of nature-friendly methods of resource utilization.  

What are your greatest fears for the future of the planet?
It is imperative that we live in harmony with our planet and that means all human inhabitants of Earth.  We need a unified response to protecting our planet, not a fragmented one with unequal commitment from different nations.

What’s the one message you would like the next generation of scientists to hear?
Educate the public with respect to your findings.  Transfer scientific based knowledge to the public to enhance society and responsible utilization/protection of Earth’s resources.

What Web sites, books, articles and other layperson references would you recommend for viewers interested in your work featured in Strange Days on Planet Earth?
Virginia Institute of Marine Science site on Mycobacteriosis:
http://www.vims.edu/myco/index.html Off-site Link

Visit Rhodes' bio page »

 

 


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