January 20, 2012 | by Damon Meyer
The transition from a graduate student to a post-doctoral fellow has been a very positive experience for me. During the final year of my graduate studies, I began looking for a postdoctoral position where I could learn protein biochemistry and work to establish a future for myself as an academic scientist. The difficulty for me lay in finding a lab with appropriate funding to support my studies while I applied for postdoctoral fellowships.However, since I started searching for a postdoctoral position early, I was able to find several labs that could support me. I decided to join the lab of Wolf-Dietrich Heyer, Ph.D., at the University of California, Davis. Heyer and I discussed several different projects and how the research would help me to establish my own lab in the future. Using the information from our discussions — and because my graduate school mentor, Adam Bailis, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, told me, “The only fellowship you don’t get is the one you don’t apply for” — I began applying for every fellowship for which I was eligible. While writing fellowships, I was able to take some time off from research, relax and spend time with my family. It was during this time I was able to recover from the inevitable “burn-out” most graduate students experience upon completing their dissertation. I also realized how much I missed research and began eagerly anticipating the start of my fellowship. Upon joining the Heyer lab, I received my first fellowship and began working on my project with help from both graduate students and other post-docs. Everyone in the lab has made me feel right at home, and the environment is ideal for research training with a mix of great seminars, facilities and classes. Upon reflection, I am grateful for the advice and encouragement from faculty, students and friends while at City of Hope without whom I would not be enjoying my postdoctoral studies.