Chaya Stern, PhD.

Name:  Chaya Stern, PhD.
Occupation:   Computational Chemist, Senior Principal Scientist at Odyssey Therapeutics

About Me: I became interested in science when I first learned about nuclear fission in school. However, my path towards a career in science wasn’t linear. I didn’t start college right after high-school and spent some time painting murals and running a construction business with my husband. By the time I decided to go to college I was already a mom and was juggling raising two kids and teaching middle school math and science part-time. Teaching science inspired me to try to make my own contribution to science. Initially I was leaning more towards biology. During the summers I conducted research in the lab of Dr. Kirk Deitsch in Weill Cornell. The Deitsch Lab studies gene regulation in the malaria parasite, plasmodium falciparum. Malaria is a highly adaptive disease, and we sought ways to understand its resistance mechanism.

While working on developing a protocol for enzymatic studies, I realized that chemical concepts and tools could be used to penetrate biological systems that previously defied elucidation. I also became more interested in drug discovery.  Therefore I decided to focus my studies on chemistry. During the spring of 2013, I conducted research with Dr. Mark Kobrak at Brooklyn College who studies theoretical models of confined electrolytes. This allowed me to explore chemical problems whose answers have implications for biological systems. Working with Dr. Kobrak introduced me to insights that can be gleaned from molecular modeling and effects that must be accounted for in simulations so that the insights are meaningful. It was during my senior year at Brooklyn college where I became interested in computational chemistry.

When I was looking for a graduate school, I wanted to do work in physical chemistry that had applications in biology. I also needed to remain in NYC for my family and needed flexibility. Luckily, I was already interested in computational chemistry which offered the flexibility I needed to be able to complete a PhD while raising kids. I ended up joining the Tri-Institutional Training Program in Chemical Biology and did my PhD in the lab of Dr. John Chodera at Memorial Sloan Kettering. During my PhD, I worked on improving molecular models for drug-like molecules. This work prepared me well for a career in biotech.

About My Work: After finishing my PhD, I joined DeepCure, a biotech startup using machine learning to discover new drugs. I worked with an interdisciplinary team of scientists and software developers to build the technology we used to find new drugs for difficult targets in cancer. In my role, I combined my knowledge of chemistry and software engineering to allow us to run physics-based simulations at scale. In addition, I worked with machine learning scientists to figure out ways to combine our understanding of the physics of drug binding and other drug-like properties with data-driven machine learning models to improve the predictions of our models. My favorite part about my job is knowing that the work I do can potentially lead to lifesaving drugs that will make an enormous difference to patients. Developing a new drug is expensive and takes many years. The goal of the technology being developed is to decrease the time and resources it takes to discover new drugs. The work is at the bleeding edge, innovative, and intellectually satisfying.

Advice About Entering the Field: Computational chemistry in drug discovery is an exciting and fast-growing field. Computational chemists develop and use models to predict drug-like properties of molecules. They work in interdisciplinary teams with medicinal chemists and biologists to discover and advance molecules through the drug discovery pipeline.

Most computational chemists in the pharmaceutical and biotech industry have PhDs. However, they are not absolutely required and it is possible to get into the field without one. Some people spend some time after their PhDs doing a postdoc to gain more skills and knowledge, but in the current market it is not required. It is important to have at least basic programming skills in a scripting language such as Python or bash. Given the interdisciplinary nature of the teams we work on, it is really important to be a good team player, have excellent communication skills, and to always be open to learn. The field is always changing so you will need to stay on top of new, exciting development and never stop learning.

José Abraham Villegas, PhD.

Name:  José Abraham Villegas, PhD.
Occupation:   Bridge to the Faculty Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Illinois at Chicago

About Me: I’m a first-generation college student who grew up in the heavily immigrant community of Santa Ana, California. I was lucky to have both a great physics teacher and a great chemistry teacher in high school, and with their help I managed to go on to study Biochemistry at the University of California, Santa Barbara. However, during my time in college, I didn’t feel like I could connect with the scientific community on campus. I felt very intimidated in an environment where there were almost no people of color, and I never felt comfortable asking professors for help or asking to work in a research laboratory.  I ended up feeling isolated and disillusioned with the idea of science as a career.

I felt like I should be out in the world making a difference in people’s lives, rather than being stuck in a lab doing esoteric experiments. After college, I decided to start a career in environmental toxicology, given that I already had a science degree. I moved to New York City and found a job working as an Environmental Risk Assessor for the Lead Poisoning Prevention Program of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Lead poisoning is a public health problem that predominately affects Black and Hispanic children from low socio-economic backgrounds, and leads to developmental problems, low academic achievement, and higher incarceration rates. When a child was identified as being lead poisoned, my job was to visit their home and educate the family about the mechanisms and dangers of lead poisoning, and to perform a thorough inspection to identify sources of lead exposure.

Treatment for lead poisoning involves the administration of a chelating agent, which is non-specific towards metals and therefore has unintended side-effects. I became interested in the idea of finding better ways to separate metals and perhaps develop better therapeutics. This lead me back to academia to pursue a Master’s Degree in Chemistry at Brooklyn College under the supervision of Prof. Brian Gibney, who works on the design of metal-binding proteins. Prof. Gibney was a central figure in my scientific journey, and it was thanks to his mentorship that I went on to pursue a doctoral degree. He walked me through every step of the application process, and helped me to decide to which schools to apply and what advisors to consider. I never could have imagined that I would end up being accepted to a top doctoral program at the University of Pennsylvania.

About My Work: In my work, I use computer models to try to understand how biological molecules behave, and to design new types of molecules with the help of computational tools. For example, one of my projects involves trying to understand how a certain environmental toxin commonly found in plastics interacts with human cells. To do so, I construct computational models of the proteins in the cell that are known to be affected by the toxin, and use these models to study how the toxin and the proteins might be interacting at the atomic level. This work helps us to build hypotheses of about the mechanism of toxicity, which can then be tested in the laboratory. The knowledge that is gained from this work will enable the creation of more environmentally friendly materials.

Another field that I’m interested in is the design of self-assembling biomaterials. This is an area of research that is inspired by the way that living things grow and heal. Living matter is made up a complex assortment of biomolecules, that self-organize to give rise to intricate structures that are constantly changing. Scientists have learned a great deal about how these processes work at the molecular level, by studying how the smallest components of the cell interact with one another to build what are called “supra-molecular structures.” For example, I have studied an iron-storage protein called Ferritin, which forms nanoscopic spherical shells that fill up with iron.

The lessons learned from studying these types of molecules has led scientist to ask, “Could we design molecules that self-organize in the same way, and could we build useful things out of them?” We can imagine molecular size nano-bots that could deliver drugs to part of the body that need them, or that help to repair damaged tissues. Or we can imagine making advanced materials with self-healing properties. What if you could have a cell phone that, if you dropped and broke the screen, would automatically repair itself? In order to engineer these types of materials, we use computers to build models and carry out simulations, the same way that an engineer would do to design a bridge or an airplane. Except the models we build are made to predict how matter behaves down to the molecular level.

We obviously have much to learn about how living things self-assemble, and a we have long way to go before we can build materials with life-like properties, but this is where the excitement of science lies! My favorite part of being a scientist is being part of a global community of people all doing their part to advance human knowledge. Meeting other scientists and learning about the advances they’ve made, and having other scientist take an interest in your own work, is a highly rewarding experience.

Advice About Entering the Field: I cannot stress this enough, if you want to become a scientist, you need to find good mentors! Science is not one of those fields where you can simply work hard at your job and keep climbing up the ladder. The whole system is built on the mentorship model. This means that you need to find a person, or persons, who will take you under their wing and take an interest in your career. While this might seem like a lot to ask of any particular person, this is the way every scientist has been trained. Every scientist knows that their job is not only to carry out research, but to mentor the next generation. So don’t be afraid to ask. Here are a few tips on finding a good mentor.

  1. Do your research. Make sure you find people who are doing work that you can get excited about. Read their research papers from early in their career so you can get a sense of how they have grown as a scientist. Also, read some of the papers from their own mentors, and their mentor’s mentors, to get a sense of what kind knowledge has been passed down to them.
  2. Have conversations with as many potential mentors as possible. You want to find someone who is a good fit with your personally type, and who will take a genuine interest in mentoring you.
  3. Talk to current students. Find out what that person’s mentorship style is like, and whether that style would be a good fit for you. Some mentors are more managerial, meaning that they will tell you exactly what to do and how to do it. Some mentors are more hands off, and they might give you free rein on trying out your own ideas how to do things. It all depends on what mentoring style you are most comfortable with.
  4. If possible, talk to former students. Find out what kind of positions former students went on to get, and how their mentors helped them to get to where they are. Try to look for mentors who have helped student achieve the kinds of things you want to achieve.
  5. Get involved. The best way to find good mentorship is to become a part of the community. Do summer research projects, attend poster sessions and conferences, attend lectures and lunches with guest speakers. Don’t be afraid to venture outside of your own university. Find out what’s kind of events are happing in your area.

Brooklyn College faculty have a great track record of excellent mentorship. You can feel confident that no matter what your careers goals are, you will find the people who can help you get there.

Cary Supalo, PhD., Research Developer at Educational Testing Services

Name:  Cary Supalo, PhD.
Occupation:  Research Developer at Educational Testing Services

About Me: I earned my Ph.D. from the Pennsylvania State University in 2010 in the field of chemistry education and completed my Master of Science in inorganic chemistry from Penn State in 2005 and undergraduate studies at Purdue University with a dual degree major in chemistry and communications. My research interest is currently in accessibility making science learning experiences more accessible in a hands-on way for students who are blind or otherwise print disabled.

I attribute much of my success thus far in life to being raised well by my parents. Their support and love helped me to conquer all conflict and taught me to realize and value strength. This example allowed me to take on challenges presented to me by the world itself. Some of my hobbies include reading books and travelling domestically and internationally to historically significant places to bring history alive.

I have served as principal investigator on a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to develop the first text-to-speech enabled scientific data logger, which I commercialized through my small business called Independence Science. Additionally, I have conducted catalysis synthesis research to try to investigate new ways of producing hydrogen gas from organic materials in the hope of discovering a new fuel source. I initially conducted my laboratory research with the assistance of lab technicians where I am responsible for all the theory and mathematical computations that are required. The lab technicians conduct the physical manipulations and present me with any problems and overall results. I then interpret the results by making the materials into braille and other tactile graphic representations to draw conclusions. Based on the results will determine the next round of experimental design.

I have also served as a grant reviewer for NSF and the U.S. Department of Education. Additionally, I currently chair the ad hoc committee for chemistry for the Braille Authority of North America, leading a group of blind chemists and Braille transcribers who are working to revise the Braille Code for Chemical Notation 1997 revision. I am also a member of the American Chemical Society’s Committee on Community Activities. This committee plans for both Chemists Celebrate Earth Week and National Chemistry Week. Finally, I have served as the chair for National Chemistry Week 2021, as an active member of the National Federation of the Blind, and as a mentor for students who are blind seeking careers in science, technology, engineering, and math.

About My Work: I currently serve as a research developer at ETS based in Princeton, NJ where I assist with conducting usability studies on current and new innovative products. I also work with key stakeholders both internally and externally to promote inclusion and equity for all test takers. The best thing about what I do is that I have the unique opportunity to work with lots of forward-thinking colleagues whose aim it is to make assessments fair and equitable for everyone. It is my privilege to work as part of many teams of people who like to problem solve and do things that have never been done before.

Additionally, I have the opportunity to evaluate new prototype access technologies not yet available on the market. Seeing how these new cutting-edge technologies can and likely will impact how the blind access the Internet, conduct web-based commerce, and can leverage these new valuable tools in an assessment context is very exciting to me.

Through my work at ETS, I have the opportunity to influence how new assessments are designed to be more inclusive for test takers with various disabilities. Although it is a challenge to try to predict all needs, seeing how agile my co-workers are to problem solve concerns that arise I find truly amazing. Everyone I work with has been supportive of me and my work. I find myself in a wonderful place to work and grow as a professional accessibility expert and scientist.

Advice About Entering the Field: Spend lots of time problem solving in different subject areas to be able to demonstrate your ability to solve problems in different domains, for example, math, science, psychology, geography, English, etc. To show that you can do this in different ways is a valuable skill in the workforce. It is also important to be comfortable with who you are. If you’re not confident with that you can negatively affect what you can accomplish.  In terms of preparation, it’s key to do as well as you can in school from K-12 through pursuing an advanced degree.

Additionally, pursuing high quality blindness skills training for me was very important. This is one of my biggest recommendations to all who read this blog. Being able to read and write braille seamlessly and quickly helps with tracking technical materials and giving presentations in team meetings, and at professional conferences. Also, being a master at use of a white cane I feel helps how others in your field perceive you if you convey an image of independence. Yes, it is okay to walk sighted guide occasionally to get from place to place more quickly with a colleague, however, it is also important to demonstrate that you can do it on your own. However, knowing when to do this on your own versus when to seek assistance is something we all gain lots of experience as we excel in our fields.

If you find yourself lacking in braille, cane travel, or access technology skills, I recommend taking time out of your studies to pursue these critical skills of life. It is likely the time you invest now will pay dividends in both your work and personal life every day for the rest of your life. This is a hard decision for many people to make, but if I did not feel so strongly about this recommendation, I would not be mentioning it here. You should have a comfort zone for yourself that is not limited by psychological barriers produced by your blindness. Rather, the only barriers you should experience are those presented to you by geography and/or political limitations placed on us all by the world and other governments.

Thomas Cheshire, PhD., Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Name:  Thomas Cheshire, PhD.

Occupation:  Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

About me:  There is no short story about me, and my path to my current position as Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBL) is not straightforward. I have learned there is no “right” path in life, and finding our way is what defines and distinguishes us.

First, I should tell you that I am an albino—terrible eyesight, highly sensitive to light, and no melanin in my skin—born in Honolulu, Hawaii and raised in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Having poor vision has been a challenge throughout my life, not the least of which in the classroom when I could not see what the teacher was writing on the chalkboard. Though I was never reluctant to ask for help if I needed it—being self-sufficient and independent has always been very important to me—from early age on I often found myself doing extra reading through my textbooks to be sure I was keeping up with the class.

My first taste of higher education was at Virginia Tech. Against my family’s advice, I earned degrees in political science and philosophy rather than following in my father’s footsteps into computer science. I wholeheartedly embraced the deeper questions in my classes, and loved to discuss metaphysics, logic, and epistemology for hours with my friends. Following graduation, I continued to be curious, but decided to shift gears. I began to work my way through restaurant kitchens in New York and San Francisco, climbing my way up the culinary ladder. It should not be a surprise that I made up for my impaired vision in the kitchen by learning to cook using my other senses, but also by leveraging my sense of curiosity. Though I technically left my philosophy studies behind, I continued to ask questions constantly—pressing chefs to tell me everything they knew—and pushed myself to learn the science behind cooking.

After more than a decade of fumbling for an amateurish understanding of “molecular gastronomy”, a coworker convinced me that we should enroll in Brooklyn College to study chemistry. It did not take long for me to realize that I loved not only chemistry, but physics and mathematics as well. In fact, by the time I was studying physical chemistry and quantum mechanics, I had begun to think that it was no longer the deep questions in food science I was interested in, but rather the deep questions of our physical world, reminding me of the curiosity I had studying philosophy.

As a graduate student at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, I studied theory in an ultrafast nonlinear spectroscopy lab. My advisor, Dr. Andy Moran, encouraged me to spend a lot of time in the laser-lab, to understand the experiments the group designed by walking around the laser-table, and to consider the ways measurements can and cannot be controlled. I learned to “walk around” problems to discover new solutions. In parallel to modeling new spectroscopic techniques the group was developing, I began to apply analogues of those models to relaxation dynamics.

About My Work: At LBL, I am part of a Department of Energy Basic Energy Sciences (BES) program lead by Dr. Frances Houle and centered on the study of solar harvesting devices such as dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSC) and dye-sensitized photoelectrosynthesis cells (DSPEC). My contribution has been to investigate and develop a comprehensive model for the ultrafast photophysics of the molecules used in DSSC and DSPEC devices. I apply my knowledge of spectroscopy (light-matter interactions) and nonlinear dynamics (molecular transitions not involving the absorption nor emission of a photon) to extend traditional chemical kinetics to simulate complicated experimental data of molecules used in solar energy conversion. What does all of this mean? I hope to help make using our sun’s energy as efficient and affordable as possible by “walking around” the problem.

As part of my work at the Lab, I lead a team of researchers from multiple institutions around the country to compile data from several studies for meta-analysis, to perform electronic structure calculations, and to simulate time-resolved spectroscopic signals. Together, we are able to build on each other’s expertise to identify gaps in our knowledge and ways in which to fill them. I am fortunate to work with seasoned spectroscopists, physical chemists, inorganic chemists, materials scientists, and computational chemists, each providing perspective I would surely not have on my own. Our meetings often resolve one question, only to uncover ten new questions, but this I have learned is the nature of conducting research.

Advice About Entering the Field: For those that absolutely love learning, unlearning, relearning, and repeat, research and academia are the perfect thorny rose; but research and academia are NOT for everyone. Academia should not be entered into lightly. The life of an academic entails constantly being under scrutiny and learning to live with rejection, and sometimes failure. Whether it is referees reviewing a submitted publication or grant, the broader community evaluating your conclusions, or society as a whole deciding the value of your field, it is taxing to endure unceasing judgement of your work. Equally frustrating, as researchers we can and do fail, often. While it is never easy to admit we are wrong, or see a project fall apart, it is important as researchers to remember that in science failure is inevitable. The best we can do is to learn from our mistakes and move on to the next project. Regardless of constantly being under the microscope, I am delighted that I get to spend my time diving into the deep end of molecular interactions. I have an endless supply of puzzles and can work with colleagues across multiple disciplines. My favorite part of being an academic is the interaction with students, mentees, and attendees at talks. Despite often feeling anxious, more than anything else, I enjoy sharing what I have learned. Teaching, advising, and giving talks allows me to give back to the community that has helped transition me from a philosopher, to a restaurant worker, to a researcher at a national lab.

Yev Lushtak, PhD., Vacuum Scientist (Research Associate III) at the Cornell Laboratory for Accelerator-based ScienceS and Education (CLASSE)

Name:  Yev Lushtak

Yev Lushtak (center) with family

Occupation:  Vacuum Scientist (Research Associate III) at the Cornell Laboratory for Accelerator-based ScienceS and Education (CLASSE)

About me:  I would like to speak a little about my background.  Frankly, before discovering physical chemistry, my background was mainly in truancy and computer games.

I came to the US (SF Bay Area) from Ukraine in 1996.  The US science and mathematics high school curriculum is quite a bit behind its post-Soviet counterpart and I very quickly was hopelessly bored.  I subsequently dropped out of school several times and, ultimately, decided that finishing high school was not on the table.  I wanted to become an airplane mechanic and a writer, but my family insisted a college diploma was non-optional, regardless of what I may do afterwards.  Luckily, community college did not require a high school diploma.  I spent some time working at a butcher shop (very valuable experience, but that is a tale for another day) and, in 2002, I started at Diablo Valley College (DVC), initially majoring in mathematics. 

DVC is a great community college.  In fact, the science and math classes offered there were far more rigorous than some of the ones I took at a four-year university afterwards.  I initially had a terrible time of it for a number of reasons:  I was not very motivated since I had not found an academic subject I was excited about, I had no study skills, and, frankly, I could not force myself to learn anything I found “uninteresting”; the latter defined as whatever I happened to feel was beneath me at the time.  Furthermore, calculus without physics to back it up is a boring affair.  I got a lot of Cs during my first year, barely passing vector calculus. 

I switched to a chemistry major during my second year, after having taken an intro class and finding it somewhat enjoyable.  I did better than with mathematics (with the single exception of a C in organic chemistry) but, frankly, I did not feel a particular affinity for chemistry at that point.  It was at most interesting enough that I did not feel that I would ultimately abandon it.  Eventually, I found a great deal of affinity for physics (and it turned out that I had retained calculus despite the poor grades), but that happened after I had already been accepted as a transfer to a few schools under the chemistry major.  Rather than having to incur the fallout that was sure to follow upon telling my family that I would take another year at community college and change majors, I went with chemistry.  My first physical chemistry course changed my attitude.  Within weeks of starting, I knew I was going to pursue a PhD.   Working towards a tangible goal helped me stay motivated and I got As in most classes past that point.

I was offered admission to CUNY in 2008, however, my acceptance went unrecorded due to a clerical error.  By the time I checked in after having not heard from the school for some time, I found that the class of 2008 was full; therefore, I would have take a year off and reapply.  I was already en-route to NYC, having officially moved out of my Berkeley apartment and there was little I could do beyond taking an adjunct job and waiting.  Dr. Mark Kobrak recommended me for teaching organic chemistry recitation and lab; the prospect was a bit scary given my less than stellar performance in that class in college.  Luckily, it turned out that the advanced organic and computation chemistry classes I took in the latter college years greatly advanced my understanding of the subject and what had been a daunting affair, rife with flash cards and (ugh) memorizing, was reduced to understanding nucleophile-electrophile interactions and molecular orbital theory.  Therefore, the difficulty was mainly getting over my social anxiety and being firm with students.  I taught many courses while pursuing my PhD; including intro classes (difficult because students do not tend to have any mathematics background and tend to lose interest), a statistical thermodynamics lecture (which significantly tested my knowledge of my chosen sub-discipline), and even organic chemistry lecture.  None were more memorable than that first assignment because it made me face my social anxiety and imposter syndrome head-on, and that was tremendously helpful in my career.

I did my PhD research at Queens College (under Dr. Cherice Evans) and at the Synchrotron Radiation Center in Wisconsin.  The project was developing a novel photoemission method and it involved learning a lot about particle accelerators, synchrotron beamilines, spectroscopy, mechanical design, etc.  And, while I had trouble finding a postdoctoral position without having intimate knowledge of whatever spectroscopic technique was in fashion that year, the very diverse foundation of skills served me well in the future.  The project also awakened a love for particle accelerators that it with me to this day.

I graduated in 2013, and, after a year of teaching at all manner of CUNYs and SUNYs, while vainly looking for postdoc or a professorship, I ultimately convinced myself that perhaps taking a technical sales job was not the end of the world.  That was probably the best decision of my career.  The job required an advanced science degree, made ample use of particle accelerator knowledge, and forced me to build a network.  The latter being something I had neglected to do while in school.  I was involved with a number of major projects (I am still on the vacuum committee for next Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO), for instance).  The regular raises, promotions, and bonuses certainly did not hurt, but I knew I did not want to continue the commercial work indefinitely. 

Our daughter was born in 2017, making the frequent travel inherent in a technical sales job difficult to bare.  In 2018, I leveraged my network and the Computer Aided Design (CAD)/simulation skills I had made part of my job (to a partial chagrin of my supervisors) to get a vacuum scientist position at Cornell University.  I go into detail below, but it is as if this job is tailor-made for me.

About My Work:

I am a vacuum scientist at the Cornell Laboratory for ScienceS and Education (CLASSE).  This position exists somewhere between accelerator physicist and engineer.  Engineers are better-versed in CAD but lack the necessary physics background, while the accelerator physicists are proficient in the ins and outs of beam manipulation better but lack understanding of the other relevant systems, as well as generally not being versed in system design and vacuum components.   The vacuum scientist exists at the interface, often taking on tasks from both realms.  The position as I have made it requires knowledge of vacuum chamber design, simulation (notably of calculating stresses and gas pressures), gas/surface chemistry, and instrumentation.  Understanding the behavior of complex vacuum systems goes far beyond kinetic gas theory and requires thorough knowledge of gas conductance as well as of a breadth of pumping and measuring devices; understanding magnet optics, Radio Frequency (RF) systems, and experimental constraints is also important.

I like this job because it is never boring.  There is always something new to learn and whether one decides to focus on a particular aspect is up to the scientist, the job description being somewhat vague.  For instance, I spend at least a few hours per month learning more accelerator physics and I learned to do Finite Element Analysis (FEA) on the job; focusing on these items is not required but I enjoy them, and it brings a flavor I like to the experience. Recently, I have become recognized as an authority on FEA and therefore I get to tackle increasingly advanced projects.  Sometimes, there is a need for going off the deep end with obscure methods and equipment.  This is a great job for someone with many interests.

CLASSE houses a particle accelerator complex, and we do a lot of photocathode and accelerator research.  For instance, we recently completed the CBETA project that will pave the way for very efficient energy-recovering linear accelerators.  Nowadays, the main attraction is the Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source (CHESS).  It is an X-Ray user facility, meaning that on top of our internal research, scientists from all over the world use our beamlines to various spectroscopy and imaging.  Structural biology and material science are big-ticket items at the moment, but we are equipped to adapt to new needs as they arise.  

The Cornell Electron/positron Storage Ring (CESR) is a circular positron storage ring (we currently do not use electrons, but we have in the past and may do so again) that is used to create high-intensity X-Rays and send them to beamlines.  I mostly work on CESR but I have recently started also working on beamline optics.  In any cyclical particle accelerator, highly-relativistic particles are kept in orbit with magnetic fields as they traverse narrow-aperture vacuum chambers.  A positron beam of a non-trivial current stored at and energy 6 GeV produces intense light, which in-turn deposits extreme power densities (sometimes as much as 4 kW/m) on vacuum chamber walls, therefore, thermal load mitigation is very important.  Chamber aperture transitions must be gentle enough to avoid significant Higher Order Mode Loss (HOML) heating.  Furthermore, the maximum acceptable gas pressure in the chambers is around 1 nanoTorr, therefore, vacuum pumping is a huge concern as well.  I design vacuum chambers, run stress and deformation FEAs, and perform vacuum simulations. The latter often requires tailored Python code to get around software limitations.  CESR is an old facility, with portions of the accelerator complex having been built in the 1960s.  It was repurposed many times, initially being used for particle collisions with static targets, then transitioning to positron/electron collisions, then to studying electron cloud effects on positron beam storage, and finally to a dedicated X-ray source.  Charged particles traversing magnetic fields always produce synchrotron radiation, therefore, as far back as the 1980s, some of this radiation was used for beamline experiments.  At first, bending magnet radiation was used parasitically.  This was followed by installation of a few insertion devices (undulators and wigglers); the latter produce better-quality light (more monochromatic, better-focused, etc.).   However, given that X-ray production was not the main event, so to speak, geometric and magnetic field limitations made achieving high-brightness beams impossible.  In 2018, a major upgrade recast CESR as pretty much entirely an X-ray facility.  Since parts of the accelerator are quite old, with people who had designed various components retired or dead, maintenance presents interesting (and frequent) challenges.  The vacuum scientists tend to be the first link in the maintenance chain, either fixing things right away or deciding which specialist is called in.  Therefore, knowledge of all accelerator systems is important.  Again, as someone who cannot commit to a discipline, I enjoy this quite a bit. 

Advice About Entering the Field: There are a few lessons to be learned from this story.  First, the path to success (as vague at that is as a concept) only makes sense in hindsight; it is rife with detours and seeming dead ends.  Second, it is always possible to learn something useful even if one’s career path has not been sorted; no one will take your thirst for knowledge away and it is smart to indulge it.  Third, there is always room for a comeback.  And, fourth, and most importantly, networking is everything.  Technical skills matter little if there is nowhere to apply them.  These days finding a job requires getting through layers of recruiters and HR, and, unless you are a known specialist in whatever technique they are hiring for, getting through is nigh impossible without friends on the inside. 

As for the job, sadly, vacuum scientists are becoming increasingly rare.  Most likely for budgetary reasons, facilities tend to pile the duties on mechanical engineers.  I will reserve judgement of this practice since many of my friends are mechanical engineers; suffice it to say, I feel like there is room for both.  Also, unfortunately, post-doctoral assignments have gradually migrated from the “do something new” realm to the “cheap labor” realm.  The latter tends to require experience with similar experiments to what is being performed on top of offering little new breadth to one’s knowledge.  I find that exceedingly unfun and therefore I recommend being a generalist (mid-level knowledge of a lot of things makes it easy to close the gaps as needed) and using one’s network heavily; physical chemistry offers a better foundation than other chemistry subdisciplines or physics, but knowledge is more important than the type of PhD.  Taking a commercial job for building a network while continuing to hone technical skills worked for me.  That might not work for everyone, but I think it should be on every young scientist’s radar.

I should also say also that it is a good idea to be familiar with the X-ray facility (often called light sources or just synchrotrons) world since these house thousands of interesting science and engineering jobs.  There maybe not many vacuum scientist positions per se but there are dozens of chemists/biologists/physicists working as beamline scientists in each facility.  The latter positions tend to be a bit more focused, but they offer many new challenges and ways to learn something new.

Lukman Solola, PhD., Reseach Scientist at Axalta Coating Systems

Name:  Lukman Solola


Occupation:  Research scientist at Axalta Coating Systems

About me: I grew up in Lagos, Nigeria and immigrated to Brooklyn in the winter of 2007. About a year later, I enrolled in Brooklyn College where I pursued an undergraduate degree in Chemistry. In 2010, I was accepted into the Minorities Access to Research Careers (MARC) program and got the opportunity to work in the labs of Profs. Mark Kobrak, Sanchez Delgado and Luis Quadri. The MARC program also facilitated short research internships at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and The Johns Hopkins University of Medicine in the summers of 2010 and 2011 respectively. The effects of these experiences were two-fold. Firstly, it solidified my interest in pursuing a research career while exposing me to the expectations and possible struggles that accompany the pursuit of a doctoral degree. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, I was able to interact with other minority scientists, which gave me the confidence to pursue a research career.

After graduating in 2012, I moved to Philadelphia and began my doctoral studies in the research group of Professor Eric Schelter at the University of Pennsylvania. My research work at Penn focused on designing strategies for the synthesis and stabilization inorganic complexes featuring multiple bonds between lanthanides and main group elements. Grad school can be brutal especially at the beginning. However, things do eventually get better if you are passionate, willing to learn from your mistakes and persevere.

About My Work: I currently work as a researcher at Axalta Coating Systems’ Global Innovation Center (GIC) located in Philadelphia. I like to think of my job as having two sides. On one hand, I design experiments, coordinate and manage associate investigators who are responsible for running said experiments, analyze results which inform further studies, and write reports or patents depending on the organization’s overall strategy. On the other hand, I am responsible for communicating my work to teams either within or outside the organization in a concise and sometimes not-too-technical manner. I’ll argue that a solid graduate school education provides anyone with the requisite skillset to perform these tasks successfully. However, my time in graduate school didn’t prepare me for the sheer number of meetings I have had to attend since starting my career. More often than not, a career in industry entails working in teams of varying sizes. Since I work for a company with a global footprint, I have colleagues scattered all over the world that I have to update on the status of my projects. Thus, I have had to get used to having meetings at odd hours. While my training as an inorganic chemist plays an instrumental role in my ability to effectively do my job, I have had to develop new skill sets in order to stay relevant as a formulator. I’ve certainly earned a greater appreciation of the bulk properties of materials over the past 2 years and I like to think of myself more as a hybrid inorganic chemist/materials scientist now.

A typical day starts with a cup or two of coffee. I then spend about 20 minutes responding to emails followed by either attending an early meeting or skimming newly published journal articles or patents relevant to my projects. After this, I review results from experiments conducted the previous day and try to make sense of what they mean. The rest of my day is spent attending meetings, writing, brainstorming experiment ideas and designing said experiments.

Advice About Entering the Field: Becoming a researcher requires healthy doses of curiosity, optimism and passion. Curiosity to ask questions in the first place, optimism that the right answers or resolutions can be found and passion to keep going when it seems like absolutely nothing works.  I also believe it is essential to seek out mentors and ask as many questions as possible. My graduate training has gone a long way in developing my ability to deliver on my projects in a timely fashion, but I am also picking up new skills every day which makes my job exciting. For example, I learned how to use statistical Design of Experiments (DOE) at my job and its addition to my problem solving toolbox has been quite transformative in helping me design targeted experiments for the complex systems I work on.

Dalanda Diallo, MD, Radiologist

Name:  Dalanda Diallo


Occupation:   Diagnostic Radiologist sub-specializing in Abdominal Imaging at AdventHealth in Orlando, Florida

About me:  I grew up in Hungary. I am of mixed heritage, my mother is from Hungary and my father is from Sierra Leone. I was 15-years-old when my single mother and brother immigrated to the United States.

I realized early on that education was important. I always had a strong interest in the biosciences and naturally gravitated towards a career in medicine. I went through the public school system graduating from FDR High School and through a college fair I discovered Brooklyn College. I had plans of continuing my education in New York City and Brooklyn College was the perfect choice for me, affordable with an excellent educational platform. I discovered a gem at Brooklyn College, the late Dr. Roberto Sanchez-Delgado. I was fortunate enough that he became my mentor, with his help I was able to navigate the dynamics of college and he helped me prep for a career in medicine.

I joined Dr. Delgado’s chemistry laboratory in my sophomore year and stayed with him until graduation. I predominantly worked on synthesizing new biologically active Ruthenium-chloroquine compounds to battle chloroquine resistant strains of malaria. For this work and I was awarded the CUNY Jonas E. Salk Scholarship.

I was a member of the Brooklyn College Scholars Program while at Brooklyn College, which was an amazing environment with lots of resources and faculty who was truly invested in our success. I found this program particularly helpful for my academic needs and overall well-being. It is here that I learnt about the CUNY High Five Scholarship which covered my tuition and allowed me to focus all my efforts on studying and participating in the research lab of Dr. Delgado. 

I graduated from Brooklyn College with a BA degree in chemistry and BS in Biology. I attended medical school at SUNY Upstate Medical University, continued my training in diagnostic radiology at the University of South Florida and completed my fellowship in cross-sectional imaging at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

About My Work: As a radiologist, my day consists of lots of critical thinking and analyzing medical images to diagnose various conditions. I also perform minimally invasive procedures that utilize image guidance. My daily routine involves indirect and direct patient care and interaction with other physicians from different specialties such as surgeons and oncologists. Radiologists can participate in multidisciplinary conferences, where a team of physicians discuss treatment plans and imaging in a collaborative effort to come up with the best care for the patient.

There is actually a lot of physics and chemistry knowledge we use on the daily basis. Physics is the foundation of all our imaging modalities including radiography, ultrasound, computed tomography, nuclear medicine and magnetic resonance imaging. The chemistry knowledge I acquired in Brooklyn College formed a solid foundation that I still use today. For example there are lots of parallels between MRI and NMR spectroscopy, radioactive elements in PET/CT imaging or nuclear medicine.

Advice About Entering the Field: If you are interested in pursuing a career in medicine you will need determination, persistence and unyielding drive as the road is long, but so worth it. It is personally and professionally fulfilling. My advice is to use your college years to identify what drives you and try to align yourself with a mentor early on. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help. You can visit the Chemistry Department and inquire about principal investigators and what projects they are working on. Participating in research will make you a critical thinker and will keep you curious and engaged. In my opinion these are the skills you need to be successful, not just in medicine but any career you choose to pursue. Just remember you can achieve anything in this life. The road will be challenging, but sometimes these are the challenges we need to help us grow and get better.

Marsha Lipton, CEO of Numeraire Financial

Name:  Marsha Lipton


Occupation:   CEO of Numeraire Financial, a financial consulting company


About me:  I grew up in Moscow, the Soviet Union, the country that doesn’t exist any longer. Education has always been the highest priority in my family. As a high school student, I attended a school specializing in mathematics and physics, which has shaped my thinking and approach to life. Over my sophomore year, I also developed a fascination in physical chemistry, probably inheriting this curiosity from my father, a chemical engineer.

With the determination to become a physical chemist, I passed entrance exams to the Chemistry Department at Moscow University with a perfect score and commenced my studies in math, physics, and chemistry. From my second year, I got involved with spectroscopy and quantum chemistry. I tried my best to get to such vital subjects as enzymology, biochemistry, etc. However, I always stuck thinking about why a particular reaction goes the way it does at the quantum level. In a word, quantum chemistry has always been a magnet for me. At the end of the day, I decided to do my master thesis in high-energy spectroscopy.

Well, easier said than done. At that point, nobody knew how to compute the wave function and energy levels of atoms and molecules with a missing electron in closed shells. The traditional Hartree-Fock method generated only so many excited states. Still, they never really reached the excitation level to describe missing electrons in the inner orbitals. In my master thesis, I have developed such a methodology, which was subsequently used for many years.

After I came to America, I had a dream to get a Ph.D. from Professor Karl Freed of the University of Chicago, whose works I studied and quoted extensively during my Moscow years. Working with Karl was a real honor. However, in the US, my mental curiosity made me move on and learn new things. So, I decided to sharpen other techniques and moved on to statistical physics, thermodynamics, and differential equations. The new topic was the physical properties of polymer mixtures.

Towards the third year of my Ph.D. studies, a new interest came to the fore – quantitative finance. That was a totally new turn of events for me. Still, I bravely moved on after being accepted into an MBA program at the University of Chicago. I never contemplated dropping my Ph.D. thesis, so I moved on working on two degrees at the same time and raising a newborn daughter.

It became apparent to me that my working path will take me to Wall Street, despite the interest from the Argonne National Laboratory of me joining as a postdoc.

However, my first job in London as a summer associate on the trading floor sealed my fate, and I became a derivatives trader. It was a fascinating time! The whole trading desk was packed by “refugees” from science – 90% of people had Ph.D. in Math or Physics, while the rest had advance degrees in engineering and other “hard” sciences.

About my work:  After almost 15 years in different trading positions at major trading houses, as well as running my own hedge fund, I left institutional trading and started my own financial consulting company, Numeraire Financial. We work with major financial institutions, such as banks, exchanges, hedge funds. We help them to build new models for trading, pricing financial instruments, and risk management. We are also actively involved in validating the existing models.

Having said that, the whole field of quantitative finance is changing fast, with entirely new areas, such as cryptocurrencies and security, becoming the frontlines of finance. One of the Numeraire’s partners is a preeminent specialist in all things crypto, and we are actively developing our penetration into this area.

I am still actively supervising all projects that my company is involved in. However, my most significant responsibility is developing new leads and working with existing clients to identify their needs and vulnerabilities. Obviously, my extensive trading experience is of indispensable help.

It’s hard to describe my typical day as it depends whether Numeraire has completely filled pipeline of projects or we still have spare capacity. Every day, I speak with several clients and check on all progress reports generated daily.

Doing physical chemistry was wonderful. There is no substitute for mental curiosity, and I wanted to learn about the way the world works and to discover some of those secrets myself. But my science experience is much more than just a dissertation or a diploma. My whole attitude to understanding the world, in general, and finance, in particular, was influenced by my studies in physics. I think everyone who wants to model anything in the world should study fundamental science first.

Advice About Entering the Field:  That’s a tricky question. On the one hand, there will always be a need in finance for people with excellent analytical skills, which usually attracts students to science. However, I see more and more students go to either financial mathematics program or computer science rather than to fundamental science. By doing so, they box themselves into learning “derivative” science instead of being able to approach any problem from the “first principles” and offer a fresh look. That’s a worrisome trend, which will cause a decrease in the number of exceptionally bright students graduating with chem/ physics degrees.

Obviously, with the growth of vast amounts of electronic data, more statisticians and computer scientists will be required. However, I like to see these skills closely intertwined with the understanding of the underlying processes.

Often, during interviews, the interviewees prefer to focus on a formal, mathematical description of financial markets. However, I often find that the word “finance” aka “money” blinds many of them. Instead of a thoughtful approach, they apply in science, a similarly in-depth approach to financial markets often goes MIA. I personally prefer for a student to admit to what they don’t understand instead of moving cavalierly throughout finance.

In the end, I would like to remind anyone who considers switching from science to finance that today an advanced degree in a quantitative discipline is an absolutely necessary but not sufficient condition.

Joshua Jones, scientific consultant to the industrial hemp industry.

Name:  Joshua Jones

Occupation:   Scientific consultant to the industrial hemp industry


About me:  I grew up in Atlanta, GA, graduating high school from a small, work-study program called Ben Franklin Academy. Although I went straight to college from there, my path towards undergraduate degrees in Chemistry and International Affairs, and eventually to a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry through CUNY’s Brooklyn College, was serpentine to say the least! I initially attended a small liberal arts college in North Carolina, Warren Wilson College, studying chemistry, philosophy, and primarily how not to flunk my classes. Although I was deeply involved in the college, it didn’t take long for me to realize that time and money weren’t being well-spent, and that I needed to stretch my legs before I could find the discipline it takes to succeed in the physical sciences.

A world of curiosities drew me to travel, and I spent 6 years working, backpacking and bicycling through over 25 countries. Refreshed from these broader experiences, I returned to studies at the University of Colorado in Boulder. While there, my interest in Organic Chemistry solidified. A summer research project placed me under the wing of a generous scientific mentor, who helped me see the joy and power of understanding the world through a study & practice of chemistry. In this way, the power of mentorship to influence our goals was strongly impressed on me. I’ve since found great satisfaction helping others through the challenges of defining our professions. In my case, the pursuit of experimental chemistry at Brooklyn College has provided me the skills and authority to use chemistry as a tool to pursue a career that I enjoy.

The years spent pursuing a PhD were mentally and physically demanding. While there’s no assumption that graduate school is ‘easy’, it’s also not accurate to say it’s simply ‘hard.’ Attaining a PhD in the experimental sciences is a maturation process. For me, especially as an older student (entering graduate school at age 31), managing the multiple roles of student, teacher, researcher, husband, and father sometimes seemed incompatible. But as long as I could be patient with myself and others, I found being a graduate student to be a source of pride and success.

About my work:  After defending my thesis in July, 2015 and moving back to Colorado, I quickly found work (through a Craigslist ad!) as chief chemist at an industrial hemp start-up company. At the time, and still very much so today, there has been a large need for trained scientists to provide technical problem-solving skills for the processing of industrial hemp into safe and effective botanical extracts. So many aspects of the hemp industry have lacked technical sophistication, and were often in need of the scientific skills I had just spent a decade acquiring. For example, the farming, harvesting and extraction of hundreds of tons of hemp has no modern industrial precedent, and has required innovations in all aspects of manufacturing. Analytical methods using HPLC, GC and MS have been feverishly developed for determining secondary metabolites and contaminants in hemp plants and extracts. Methods for industrial chromatography are being developed for the purification of cannabinoids and other plant compounds found in hemp. People often say that working in the hemp industry is akin to building the airplane as it’s going down the runway. Despite the challenges, I’ve been lucky to find a near perfect match for the skills I acquired in formal education and the need for scientists in a burgeoning industry.

But speaking of challenges, not all was smooth sailing at my first job. The pressures of exponential growth on a company can be hard on management and employees. Although the hemp company I began with has since grown to be a leader in the field (Folium Biosciences), I found that other employers in Colorado’s newly state-legalized marijuana industry were willing to pay far more for my time. After 6 months working with the hemp company, and saddled with significant student loans, I joined a small team of dedicated research scientists at one of Colorado’s largest marijuana producers (LivWell Enlightened Health.) I was immediately submerged in a virtual ocean of high-quality marijuana cultivation and processing, complete with retail branding, state-wide distribution into over a dozen stores, and over 500 employees. As a research scientist, my job was essentially to diagnose production problems and figure out how to make things better. Over the next 1.5 years, I was afforded the tools to make new ideas work, and developed camaraderie with colleagues from all walks of life in an industry dedicated to producing the most potent marijuana products ever known. I found myself participating in a highly contentious transformation with far reaching effects, industrially, socially and legally, not so different from the alcohol post-prohibition period of the 1930’s.

Despite these excitements, I also found the ‘gold rush’ environment of cannabis production, especially as an employee of a single firm, to be restrictive to my broader engagement with the cannabis industries (i.e., Cannabis refers to both marijuana and hemp as varieties of the same species.) So I decided to form my own consulting company to have more freedom in the work I could do.

In late 2017, I formed a company called Jonesing Labs, and began offering consulting services to cannabis processing companies (largely hemp.) While it took several months to establish a client base, it’s been non-stop work ever since. I’ve served as a trusted advisor and participant with over 25 firms, large and small. The sheer scale of hemp operations makes my jaw drop and keeps my attention on a daily basis. I’ve provided counsel on business development, equipment selection, process design & optimization, operational safety & compliance, and custom product formulations. But despite being afforded a flattering trust from clients seeking the specialized knowledge of chemistry I aimed to provide, I yearned to be ‘back in the lab.’ Designing experiments to discover improved ways of doing things is what I’ve learned to enjoy, and lab-based services can bring greater value to clients and to a growing company like Jonesing Labs. So, for the past 6 months, with the help of gracious and capable colleagues, I’ve been working to build an experimental laboratory to offer a suite of contracted R&D services to the hemp industry. We’re also expanding our small facility to provide toll-processing services for high-value transformations of crude feedstocks into refined extracts of hemp. With competition becoming intense for the production of hemp products, new and existing hemp companies continue to seek services from Jonesing Labs to reduce production costs and improve product variety, consistency, efficacy, and safety.

Advice About Entering the Field:  For students interested in pursuing an education that could translate into opportunities in the hemp industry, relevant degrees in the physical & applied sciences, especially organic chemistry and chemical engineering, will continue to be highly sought-after skills. However, I’ve also seen that high levels of academic fluency are universally valued if not rooted in the specific technologies used for processing hemp. For this reason, students should consider pursuing internships with hemp firms while still in school to complement their formal education. Coming out of school with exposure to industry needs, and with relationships built for quick transition into the sector, would be my recommendation for anyone considering participation in this new and thriving business.

Although my working experience has shown that flexibility in expectations for working environments is just as important as skills in the hard sciences (i.e., in start-ups, you ‘wear all hats’), I might also add that rapid industry growth, going from cannabidiol (CBD) being virtually unknown in 2015 to being available in gas stations and supermarkets 2019, means the working environments that current students might face when entering the industry in years to come will likely be relatively secure and specialized compared to what I encountered in 2015. In that light, students may expect to encounter job descriptions and environments that are well-defined and more in-line with more established nutraceutical or pharmaceutical firms. That said, if I can ever be of help in guiding relevant educational or career choices, please feel free to contact me through the Brooklyn College Chemistry Department.

Bola Aladegbami, General Surgery Chief Resident at Washington University School of Medicine

Name:  Bola Aladegbami

Occupation:   General Surgery Chief Resident at Washington University School of Medicine


About me:  I immigrated to Brooklyn from Nigeria in 2002 and enrolled in Brooklyn College the same summer. I was initially unsure of what to study or what profession to pursue or what it entailed to be a physician or go to medical school. However, I was lucky to have the late Dr. Roberto Sanchez-Delgado (Professor of Chemistry) as a mentor. He helped launch my career and shaped its trajectory.

I was lucky to do research in Dr. Sanchez-Delgado’s lab studying new therapeutic ruthenium based drugs for treating Tuberculosis. This time spent in the lab helped improve my critical thinking, problem solving abilities and overall confidence. In addition, the research made me a more competitive candidate for medical school.

Prior to starting medical school at Stony Brook in 2008, I took 2 years off to design and study diagnostic models for multi-drug resistant tuberculosis. This research opportunity was made possible by my initial research at Brooklyn College. This time off prior to medical school gave me needed time to be a more seasoned professional.

I graduated from Stony Brook medical school in 2012 and have since been a general surgery resident at Washington University school of medicine.  A typical general surgery residency is 5 years, however I spent 3 years doing additional research and also completing an MBA degree. I am currently scheduled to graduate June 2020. After that I will be moving to Carolina Medical Center to start a one year Minimally Invasive Surgery fellowship.

About my work:  My job can be broken into diagnosing patients, creating treatment plans, implementing treatment plans and post-procedure monitoring. The diagnosis portion entails using a combination of the patient-reported symptoms, physical exam in addition to laboratory tests or imaging studies to elucidate their disease process. As a surgeon the treatment plan phase typically bifurcates into to parts:  Does the patient need a medical management (observation, drugs, physical therapy etc.) or a surgical procedure performed?  Regardless of the pathway taken, the surgeon is still involved in monitoring their response to therapy.

My day typically starts earlier and ends later than most individuals’. I usually start by seeing the patients currently admitted to the surgical service to create/adjust diagnostic or treatment or discharge plans. Starting around 7:30 am, we then proceed to the operating room to perform scheduled surgical cases. The operating room for me feels like being in a yoga session where all the problems in the world melt away with your only focus being the patient on your operating room table. After all the operations are done, I then proceed to reassess all the patients on my service before leaving the hospital.

Chemistry laid the foundation for me to be a Medical Doctor. Chemistry makes it easier for me to understand clinical pathways, disease pathogenesis, pharmacology, signaling pathway etc. All of which are essential in medicine and basic science research. The only thing chemistry does not enhance is your hand-eye coordination.

Advice About Entering the Field:  Anyone regardless of race or gender or sexual preference could become a Medical Doctor or Surgeon. There is no personal characteristic that makes one a better doctor or surgeon. The major focus in college should be ensuring you make yourself a competitive candidate (good grades, good letters of recommendations, MCAT scores, and research in a field you are passionate about).  The road however is hard, long and filled with challenges and sacrifices. However, nothing worth doing is easy.