A Conversation with Samantha Summer

About Samantha

Name: Samantha Summer
Location: Atlanta, GA
Community Connection: PhD Alum
Career: Technical Advisor
Alma Mater: Augusta University
Research Group: Liotta
Committee: Salaita, Conticello

Describe your family (pets included!)

I am married to a nurse. I have two adorable kitters, Pig (a chonky void) and Gravy (a slonky gray boy).

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

I used to believe that I wasn’t worthy of a PhD, but I don’t believe that anymore. (Ed. Note.: That was definitely imposter syndrome talking! Congratulations to Samantha for earning her PhD in March 2020!)

What makes you most excited about your work?

I get to learn something new all the time. I love learning about other people’s science.

How are you structuring your COVID-19 “work from home” schedule?

I am scheduling tasks in my calendar and taking regular breaks (for example answering this survey, eating delicious Chinese food, talking to my therapist, etc…)

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

I think it’s awesome that I developed the first modulators of a new receptor. Because of work that I did, the field now has tools to learn about a receptor that was previously a mystery.

If you could be any other type of scientist, what would you be and why?

I have always envied immunologists. Immunology is the most difficult field to understand (in my opinion) and it would be awesome to attempt to understand it rather than running away from it crying like I currently do!

What is a personal activity/hobby that you think complements your scientific skills or vice versa?

I love to bake, it’s a science and an art. I haven’t had much time to do it in grad school, but I’m looking forward to baking more often now.

What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?

That you should be working all the time.

How did you find your passion in science? What’s the story behind it?

I’ve always been fascinated with drugs and how they work. That’s what got me into science and prompted me to go to grad school.

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

I struggled with believing that I was worthy of doing it and that I wasn’t messing it up. I had to learn not to listen to people who’s mentoring style is to make people feel badly about their work.

When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, what do you do?

I take a nap, distract myself for a little bit, and then try to refocus.

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