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#STEMStories: Dr. Addie, Scientific Editor, USA

1. Introduce yourself, who are you what do you do?

I am Dr. Adeline (Addie) Boettcher! I completed my PhD at Iowa State University in 2019 where I worked with pigs. Our lab was focused on developing these pigs as a biomedical model for cancer and stem cell research. The picture below shows a few pics from my work at Iowa State!

I did a short postdoctoral fellowship at Northwestern University in Chicago where I worked on mouse biomedical models of cancer. I had always loved science writing, so I found a position as a Scientific Editor at the Radiological Society of North America where I review manuscripts about radiology in the fields of artificial intelligence and imaging cancer.

2. How did you arrive at this career (or point in your life/work)? Was it always something you knew you wanted to do?

I think my path for working in science writing and editing has been lingering in the background for about eight years now- I just didn’t realize it! Back when I was an undergraduate, I took three separate independent studies- one about yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae), one about cancer, and one about flies (Drosophila melanogaster). While I loved the research that went into the independent studies- it was really the papers that I wrote that I enjoyed the most. I always thought it was really fulfilling to have written and finished a piece.

In graduate school, I also wrote a lot. I would get excited about the research projects I was working on and I would continue to write about them as I progressed in the research. Now, when you’re in grad school working on a research project, it can take anywhere from 1-3 years (or more)- so writing along the way is helpful so you don’t forget the small details. 

3. What about your job makes you jump out of bed in the morning, especially on those cold, dark mornings?

I get to learn! Being a scientific editor allows me to read new and upcoming research that hasn’t been published yet! On top of that, each paper I read is a little puzzle because I get to be creative in the ways that I edit the content so that can be easy for our readers to digest.

I also work on a variety of independent projects- I write blogs about science and academic publishing, and recently started a series of blogs about animal models. This is also really exciting to me because I get to talk to new people all the time!

Here’s me at work while I write this!

4. What is your personal cure for stress or how do you raise your spirits in times of doubt? Can you share a Story?

Whenever I have a bad day, I always think to myself, “Tomorrow is a new day”. During stressful times of my life, I try to read and think of the Buddhist thoughts of suffering. I won’t go into all the details here, but the premise is that we should be aware that (1) suffering exists, (2) suffering arises from attachment to desires, and (3) suffering ceases when attachment to desire ceases. Basically, if I am stressed or down, I try to pinpoint the things that are making me feel this way (things that I desire, but do not have), and try to figure out ways to solve those issues.

For example, if things feel chaotic at work, I have written down a list of 5-10 objective problems that are causing it to feel chaotic, and how each of those things can be fixed.

If we can pick apart a problem, they become a lot easier to fix!

5. Who is your role model? If no one, any thoughts on this?

I have had a variety of women that have inspired me- Dr. Crystal Loving and Dr. Joan Cunnick were two women on my PhD committee that helped me with my research project. Both of them were so down to earth, smart, and were great to talk to.
There have been two notable presentations by 2019 AALAS president Morag Mackay and cell transplant researcher Dr. Katy Rezvani (from the American Association for Cancer Research 2018) that just kicked-ass—as I watched the talks, I wanted to be able to stand up in front of an audience like them.

6. What advice would you give to yourself if you could go back in time?

TAKE RESEARCH AND LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES! Don’t ever think that you’re not good enough- we all have the capacity to learn something new.

When I was an undergraduate, after my freshman year I didn’t think I was good enough for a summer research internship…so I didn’t apply for one. I should have just applied because there’s a possibility I would have gotten in.

Talk to your mentors about topics that you’re interested in and don’t be afraid to learn more!

7. Top 3 tips for girls starting out in STEM?

  1. Find your passion and run with it. Your passions may change over time- and that’s okay.
  2. You know what’s right for you. Some people may try to sway you into doing a job or career that you don’t want. At the end of the day, you know what’s going to make you happy.
  3. Be an open communicator. I know that I struggled with starting conversations during undergraduate- but by practicing your communication skills (verbal and through email)- you can kickstart a lot of great conversations and projects.

8. How do you measure your success?

By my happiness and the goals that I complete!

9. Where can we find out more about your work?

My publications can be found here.

One of my independent projects is compiling blogs about animal models from different researchers (all ages). More information can be found here.

10. Are you social? Will you share your Twitter handle, or LinkedIn profile, or Facebook so that young women can connect with you?

Twitter: @adeline_bio and @sciwritingtips