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Cindy Maddera

I'm sitting on my little twin sized bed in my shared room inside a cabin that holds three other rooms. The talks this morning are all mRNA and transcription, a topic that makes my eyes glaze over. I took this morning off. I walked all the way down to the beach where I saw a dozen different kinds of birds and a washed up horseshoe crab. The wind was cold coming off the water and when I finally made my way back inside, my cheeks were a rosy pink. This is my last day of the conference and it has been a surprising experience. My brain is full of new science stuff, so full in fact that I think some of it is leaking out my ears. 

I don't talk about work here. It's pretty much one of the first rules of blogging to never talk about work. Today, though, I think I'm going to break that rule just a tiny bit. In the last year, my job has changed in a good way and I didn't even realize that I needed that change. When I finished graduate school with my masters degree, I was at a loss of what to do next. I knew that I was done with school and that a PhD was not my future, but I had no idea what I was going to do. I took a job in a sequencing facility and did factory science for a couple of years. I found the job to be tedious. There was no creativity required, just skillful pipetting and I started looking for other options. That's when I met Margaret and Philip and I went to work in Margaret's lab. I spent the next nine years playing. My work challenged me and fostered creativity and a passion for science that had been squashed, really since graduate school.  

Things changed after I left Margaret's lab. I lost the creativity and passion and work just became a job, a way to pay the bills. Even the new fancy pants job lacked the creativity and passion I had had before. But then this last year, our department was restructured and I went from just doing a job to doing work that once again challenged me and fostered creativity and passion. I didn't even realize those things had been missing from my current job until I attended this conference this week. I have learned so much and have been so inspired. Of course the setting for the conference helps too. It's basically a scientist commune with cabins and a garden. It's a place where scientists can bring their families for the summer. There are these black and white pictures dotting the walls of the bar depicting BBQs with James Watson manning the grill and a framed display of bar napkins full of scientific doodles. Margaret told me this place is rich with history and I long to hear stories of Summer's past.

You should imagine me at age eight when science was becoming a thing for me. It was 1983 and we sent Sally Ride, the first American woman, into space. My dress up game was an over sized white shirt that became a lab coat and I studied grass and rocks with a magnifying glass. Everything science was so exciting, so fascinating. I stood in awe of the discoveries. Cindy age eight has never really gone away. That fascinated excited girl still exists, she's just been sleeping for the last few years. I went to this conference not knowing what to expect or even if I was smart enough to be there. The last thing I expected was to see eight year old Cindy again, but that's what happened. I went all the way to a science conference in New York to wake up an eight year old Cindy. Long way to go for a wake up call? Maybe, but totally worth it.