A Conversation with Caitlin Davis

About Caitlin

Name: Caitlin Davis
Location: New Haven, CT
Community Connection: PhD Alum
Career: Assistant Professor at Yale University
Alma Mater: University of Michigan
Research Group: Dyer
Committee: Kindt, Lynn

What is something that you used to believe, but no longer do?

That narwhals aren’t real. I was about thirty when I found out. I thought that narwhals were imaginary like unicorns.

Unicorns aren’t real, are they?

Do you have a system for being more productive? Dealing with procrastination? Burn-out?

I make a to-do list at the end of every day. That way when I get to work in the morning I know exactly what I’m going to do and don’t get sucked into email or other distractions. For me, starting the day productively sets the tone for the rest of the day. Once I’ve gotten a few things started I take a break for email/coffee.

Breaks are important! I don’t beat myself up over procrastination or burn-out but try to embrace it. Once I realize I’m procrastinating/burnt-out, I take a break, set small goals that seem more manageable, and reward myself for what I have achieved.

Temperature Jump in the Gruebele Lab (Illinois) where Caitlin was a postdoctoral scholar

If you could re-make any movie or TV series what would it be and what would you change?

I wouldn’t re-make any movie or TV series per se, but one of my pet peeves is when TV or movie series are canceled without completing the story. I would use this power to give some of these shows an ending.

Optical Table in the Gruebele Lab

What has been your favorite paper or result that has come out of your work and why?

My favorite paper is “Dynamics of an Ultrafast Folding Subdomain in the Context of a Larger Protein Fold” from my time in Brian Dyer’s lab at Emory. It was the first original project idea that resulted in publication.

Microscope Setup in the Gruebele Lab

What was the biggest challenge you faced in completing your dissertation? What was the biggest factor contributing to your success?

My biggest challenge was self confidence. It is easy to worry about failures in the lab, feel guilty about missing deadlines, let others mistreat you, or get wrapped up in comparing your research productivity to others. Everyone has a different project and career path. It took me years to realize this and I still sometimes waste energy on these! What has helped me be successful is being proactive, creating an annual plan, communicating with my supervisor, and building a research community outside of the lab/department.

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