Scientific research is a quest of discovery, culminating in the dissemination of new knowledge following what can be an intensive peer-review process. Understandably, the focus of experimental research is to acquire a sufficient body of information that provides a “story” worthy of publication; in major research institutions the catch-all phrase is “publish or perish”.
What drew me to research in the biological sciences, however, was not only the giddy excitement I felt when an experiment yielded [positive] results but the opportunity I had to meet and interact with such interesting and stimulating people. In 2011, I had the thrilling experience of spending my sabbatical at the University of Liverpool in England, conducting research on repair of chemically damaged Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA).
I returned to Liverpool in June to continue my research, and as I prepared for my trip, I found myself reflecting on how important comrade and cooperativeness are in my overseas research experience. In fact, these two factors have played a crucial role in the exuberance I generally feel for science, as both a researcher and educator.
My first day in Liverpool, England, seriously jet-lagged and in the company of only my two high school age daughters and about ten rather large pieces of luggage, was undoubtedly mind-boggling. Although I had never formally met the two faculty members hosting me for my sabbatical, Lesley Iwanejko and Andy Bates, Lesley greeted me and my daughter at the hotel with her small flat-bed truck to help transport our belongings to our new home. She was instrumental in acclimating us to our residence (who would have known that a boiler could be tucked behind a kitchen cabinet!), the public transportation system, shopping options, and more than I have time and space to detail.
The success of my sabbatical research was only possible because of the assistance and advice of a diverse group of individuals from more than five different university departments – a Radiation Safety officer who found me a twenty-year-old power supply to run my gels; a diligent graduate student who taught me how to operate a $3 million dollar piece of equipment; lab mangers who made sure I had any needed chemicals and supplies, to name but a few. It certainly “takes a village” for some things to happen and, to coin a term from Andy Bates, the “intangibles” of some experiences can far out-weigh the concrete results.
Dr. Patricia Compagnone-Post, an Associate Professor of Biology, joined the Albertus Magnus College faculty in 2003. She was appointed an Honorary Senior Lecturer at the University of Liverpool in 2011. The Connecticut Technology Council selected Dr. Compagnone-Post a Woman of Innovation Finalist in 2009 for her contributions to the field of academic innovation and leadership. Prior to joining the Albertus faculty she had been a research scientist at the Yale University School of Medicine.
Dr. Compagnone-Post received a B.S. degree, magna cum laude, in chemistry from Emmanuel College, a M.S. degree in molecular biology from the University of Pennsylvania, and a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Pittsburgh.
AUGUST 2013 – Dr. Compagnone-Post will follow-up with part-two of her blog sharing more about her experiences and research in Liverpool, England.