By Joshua D. Chandler ’09
Doctoral Candidate in Toxicology, University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences
While completing a double major in biology and chemistry at Drury, I also pursued studies in writing, jazz and other areas. Even the nonscience studies helped prepare me for grad school. Among other things, the diverse curriculum taught me the technique of occasionally removing focus from an idea for a while in order to better understand it.
I remember realizing this technique while studying biochemistry at Drury. I couldn’t keep the reactions of the Krebs cycle straight after several hours so I set that aside and worked on jazz theory. While I improvised bass lines, the series of chemical reactions I had read about before started to make sense. When I reopened my textbook, the metabolic pathway felt instantly familiar.
I use the same method for problem-solving in research and writing. Sometimes I hit a mental wall in the lab or while writing an article and I have to change tasks before inspiration will come. Often I will have my best idea a few minutes after I’ve stepped away from the bench or exited the lab. Being able to pivot between experimentation and critical reading and writing helps me to stay productive while allowing my subconscious to process problems I’ve encountered.
My time at Drury helped me develop a well-rounded skill set that I use for my new career. Studying writing made preparing manuscripts for high-impact journals much easier. Gender and global studies prepared me for the cosmopolitan environment of grad school at a prestigious university. And I still play jazz—each weekend I play a three-hour set at a Denver winery, which is a great escape from research. It should be clear by now why I value that! Being a scientist who isn’t “just a scientist” is a huge advantage in many situations.