During the last nine years of his scientific training, Colin
W. Garvie never set foot in a chemistry department. But after
graduate and postdoc work in biophysics departments at the University
of Leeds and Johns Hopkins University,
respectively, Garvie accepted a faculty job in a place he wouldn't
necessarily have expected: the chemistry and biochemistry department
at the University of Maryland, Baltimore
County. "As a crystallographer interested in probing protein-DNA
interactions, I feel very much at home here," he says.
| RIGHT FIT
Garvie, a crystallographer who learned the ropes in biophysics
departments, has found a niche in the chemistry and biochemistry
department at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
Thanks in part to an increased emphasis on interdisciplinary
work, a number of chemistry departments have opened their doors
to those trained in other fields. Andy
Berglund, now an assistant professor of chemistry at the University
of Oregon, didn't originally go looking for a job in chemistry.
After graduate work in biochemistry at Brandeis
University, he had his eye on a job in a biology or biochemistry
department. But when he applied to Oregon's biology department,
they asked whether he'd consider a job opening in their chemistry
department, too. "I still identify myself as a biochemist, but
the chemistry department at Oregon is a perfect fit for my interests
in the biochemistry of RNA splicing," Berglund says.
never even thought about applying to a chemistry department. With
a Ph.D. in condensed matter physics and linear optics from UC
Berkeley and postdoc experience in biophysics, Zhuang figured
that she'd make her home in a physics or biology department. Then
Harvard's department of
chemistry and chemical biology invited her to apply. "Physics
and biology departments were natural choices for me. Chemistry
was not so straightforward," she says. But Harvard's interest
in her work inspired Zhuang to apply to other chemistry departments.
"In the end, I decided that I enjoyed talking to chemists immensely."
Now at Harvard, Zhuang is developing methods to track individual
molecules and particles in live cells.
Zhuang will teach general chemistry for the first time this
spring. She's a little nervous, but no more so than when she taught
classes in advanced biophysics and statistical mechanics in her
first two years at Harvard. Both Garvie and Berglund say that
they, too, were initially leery about teaching chemistry courses.
"I had to relearn a lot of things to teach general chemistry,"
Berglund says. "But that's true of nearly all young faculty, regardless
of their background."