Amy always had a thing for learning. Growing up in the Chicago suburb of Evanston, IL, she was blessed with schools dedicated to students. Her parents insisted that she work hard and always get her homework done. As she grew she took a liking to meteorology. However, her Achilles heel was math phobia. When she realized that meteorology depended on thermodynamics she decided to look elsewhere.Amy’s high school had an advanced required writing program where she learned to research and write scholarly papers. She then went to a small liberal arts college in Beloit, WI, where one professor, Dr. Whitney Sweeney, PhD., turned her on to neuroscience. Since then she was hooked. And she knew that to make a meaningful impact in this field she would have to get that Ph.D.
She enrolled in the Psychology-Behavioral Neuroscience program at University of Illinois at Chicago. Again, she was blessed with a mentor, Dr. Mitch Roitman, Ph.D. It was Mitch, and his wife Dr. Jaime Roitman, Ph.D., that taught her pretty much all she knows about how to be a scientist. Even three mentors later, she still would contact Mitch for advice.
After getting her Ph.D. in psychology in 2013 (defending her dissertation on Valentine’s Day), she realized to her dismay that not all mentors were like Mitch. As a postdoc at The University of Texas – Southwestern Medical School, she learned more of the politics behind science than how to conduct science. She lost her value, not as part of scientific team, but in herself.
That changed when she received advice that maybe academia was not for her. But she did not want to leave science behind. Then she realized that, no matter where she was, she would always be a scientist.