Researcher Spotlight: "Staying a lifelong learner"

The Source
By: undefined, Tue May 25 2021

The ‘Researcher Spotlight’ series shines a light on the work and varied career journeys of the researchers who publish with us. We want researchers to be able to share their own personal stories and help others draw inspiration and extract learnings that can serve as a guide for the next steps in their own careers. These interviews provide insights and advice from researchers in different career stages and fields, from those who are just getting started in research to more experienced researchers.

Michael Nguyen-Truong, Ph.D. candidate in Bioengineering at Colorado State University, discusses the most effective ways of working with his supervisor, his career plans post-PhD, and shares what advice he would give to his younger self. 

What is the most effective way to work with your supervisor when choosing a journal for publication?

I find it best to do my own research on the journals that are appropriate (in regard to scope, audience, rigor, review time, etc.) for the manuscript first. After that, I present a list of 3-5 journals that I find suitable and have a discussion with my supervisor on how to prioritize the journals for submission.

What is the next step you're hoping to take in your career? What are your plans post-PhD?

After my Ph.D., I am hoping to continue research in some capacity. I would be interested in clinical research in the pharmaceutical industry, specifically in developing cardiovascular therapies, and/or directly treating patients suffering from cardiovascular diseases. 

I believe that the multidisciplinary nature of a background in biomedical engineering/bioengineering will allow me to easily pivot into different career paths, whether it be in mechanical engineering, physiology, or regenerative medicine. In whatever career path I end up on, I want to stay a lifelong learner.

"In whatever career path I end up on, I want to stay a lifelong learner."

How can publishers better support researchers that are at the beginning of their careers now?

Publishers can support researchers through promotion of their publications (e.g., social media, seminars, symposia, conferences, etc.). It would also be beneficial to have publishers interview publication authors so that their findings can be put in layman’s terms. These can lead to greater exposure of their research and more accessibility to the public.

What have been some of the challenges you have encountered in getting your research published?

Some challenges I have faced are lengthy review processes and revisions that are sometimes beyond the scope of a project. Also, a lack of consensus from reviewers on the items that need to be addressed make the revision process challenging and can lead to a less cohesive manuscript (i.e., too many cooks in the kitchen). 

Lastly, there is a tendency for significant results to be published while non-significant results are rejected. This may mean that others are not able to learn from a researcher’s pitfalls and failures, which in turn can hinder overall scientific progress.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

I would tell my younger self to learn to better prioritize my work and improve on time management. In research, this could mean prioritizing projects or experiments depending on the potential for success. Secondly, I would suggest seeking mentors that can provide guidance and help accentuate personal talents, knowledge, or skills to increase the chances for success. I have seen this firsthand as both a mentor and mentee. 

Moreover, I find that it is still as important as it was before to not give up when the going gets rough. Bringing a project from conception to completion is important; it shows resilience, problem-solving skills, and determination. 

Lastly, always stay curious and embrace the challenges and failures—because that is where the most learning occurs.

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Other Blogs you might find interesting:

Researcher Spotlight: “The importance of exploring career tracks as a young scientist”

Researcher Spotlight: “Why researchers should treat scientific journals like museums for scientific discovery”

Visit Springer Nature's hub dedicated to early career researchers and discover resources, tutorials and all the information you need to support you in your publishing journey.

Michael Nguyen-Truong
About Michael Nguyen-Truong
Michael Nguyen-Truong is a Ph.D. candidate in Bioengineering at Colorado State University. Through his multidisciplinary research involving mechanical engineering, physiology, and regenerative medicine, he seeks to develop a comprehensive understanding of right heart physiology and pathology from a biomechanics perspective and explore ways to improve stem cell treatments for right heart failure. Outside of research, Michael has extensive mentoring and leadership experience in biomedical engineering and public health.