Meet the Scientist

Meghan Breen

Post-Doctoral Fellow at University of Michigan

"I love that I am constantly learning new things!"

What scientific field do you work in?

 

Chemical Biology

Could you briefly explain what your job involves?

 

Right now my job is doing research full time.  I use chemistry-based methods to study biological questions.  I study a process called transcription (how cells turn on our genes) and the proteins that are involved.  Next summer I’ll be starting a new job as an Assistant Professor at Furman University.  My new job will involve teaching chemistry courses and running my own research lab.

Do you have any secret talents?

 

I like to sew – I make a lot of quilts to give as gifts.  Not talents, but in my spare time  I also volunteer at a cat café and love to travel.  In 2019 I’m taking trips to Iceland and Spain.

When did you decide you wanted to work as a scientist?

 

I decided to become a scientist towards the end of high school.  I had two great science teachers who were super inspiring (shout out to Mr Gattung and Mr Curry!). Before that, I thought I would be a lawyer.

What's your favourite food?

 

Chocolate.

What educational pathway did you take to get to where you are now?

 

I went to college at Eastern Illinois University and studied chemistry.  Then I went to the University of Michigan for graduate school and earned my PhD in medicinal chemistry.  Now I’m a postdoctoral fellow (extra training after getting your PhD) at the University of Michigan. 

What was the best thing about your job?

 

I love that I am constantly learning new things!  I also work with talented and fascinating people.

"...I make a lot of quilts to give as gifts..."

What was the worst thing about your job?

 

I wouldn’t necessarily classify it as “the worst”, but you do need to be prepared for failure.  Experiments don’t always work, and you need to be able to pick yourself up and try again (and again, and again…).

If you could take one thing with you to an island, what would it be and why?

 

My cat, Minnie.  She wouldn’t be much help, but I would miss her if she wasn’t there.

Have you taken part in any research?

 

Yes!  I’ve been doing research for almost 15 years now – I started during my first year of college.

I really love the project I’m finishing up right now – I’m exploring new ways to stop two proteins that are important for the progression of leukemia from interacting with each other. The molecules I’m studying could one day help us develop new treatments for leukemia.

"...you need to be able to pick yourself up and try again..."

Do you have any advice for young people who are interested in your career path?

 

1) You don’t need to be a perfect, straight A student to be a great scientist, but you do need to be creative and persistent!

2) If you’re interested a particular job or research area, then reach out to people for more information. Especially scientists on social media – we love to talk about science and what we do.

3) Work hard, but cultivate other interests too. Just because you’re a scientist doesn’t mean you can’t have other hobbies. 

Anything else you'd like to add?

If you want to learn more about what my job is like, you can find me on Twitter: @MegBreenPhD

Ask Meghan a Question

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