Edit ModuleShow Tags

"Believe in yourself. Stand proud and don’t let anyone give you grief."

Brunhilde Felding, Ph.D. is an associate professor in the department of chemical physiology and the department of molecular and experimental medicine at The Scripps Research Institute. Her lab has made advances toward curing cancer by figuring out how to target the part of cancer cells that causes them to grow or metastasize. She surfs daily near Scripps Pier.



Published:

How do you create a more supportive environment for women in science?

The female faculty group at our institute is my hub for inspiration, support, empowerment, and an incredible resource for wisdom. Not only in research but life in general. Every one of our female faculty group members has arrived at where she is through incredible courage, exemplary performance in research, commitment, and perseverance. A true passion for us is to teach graduate students. Every minute I can spend with my students, postdoctoral fellows, and colleagues, pushing our research goals, is precious, and it’s my passion. I try to minimize stuff that distracts from that.

What do you look for in young scientists?

For research you must have a very high tolerance for setbacks, plus an ability to deal creatively with complex situations and unexpected findings that may initially seem to lead you in the wrong direction. The key is open-mindedness, and educating yourself diligently so you can find a meaning. Perseverance is an absolute must. Thoughtful, hard work with a team spirit and willingness to collaborate with others lead to the rare breakthrough. The sweetest thing is to watch a student experience the joy of discovery... It’s like when a space mission team lands a probe on Mars or flies by Pluto.

What’s the hardest part about mentoring?

When they work their butts off, think hard, and can’t get their systems to work. This is your great chance to help them find ways to improve their approaches, or think up alternatives. You must stay with them and not let them venture off. It is one of the most important practices in research: to keep one’s focus and not give up. As a friend of mine recently said: The difference between a novice and a master is that the master has encountered and overcome a thousand obstacles.

Is it harder for women than men?

Gender bias is not uncommon, and it can be subtle or outright insulting. I look at myself as a person in such situations rather than as a woman, and I look at the other people also as individual persons rather than as men. That allows you to do the sizing up on a purely intellectual basis. I then decide if I want to invest in dealing with them.

What’s your best advice for women coming up in scientific research?

Believe in yourself. Stand proud and don’t let anyone give you grief. Work hard, educate yourself as best as possible, and continuously, and express yourself clearly. To make important decisions, draw on experience, information, and knowledge, get a picture of the situation, possibilities, and choices on hand, and ultimately follow your gut feeling. You won’t go wrong.


Photography by Flavio Scorsato
Styling by Cecelia Church
Hair & Makeup by Kristi Colby

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Related Stories

On the Job: Meet the Crossing Guard

Moray “Mr. Mo” Black pulls out all the stops to keep kids safe and brighten their day

Celebrating Women: Meet San Diego State University's First Female President

Adela de la Torre on how she rose to the top and her vision for the school’s (possible) expansion

Neil deGrasse Tyson on Ice Fishing in Space—and Coming to San Diego

The prolific scientist brings his touring show An Astrophysicist Goes to the Movies to Civic Theatre
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. Best of San Diego Party 2018
  2. Good Night, Cafe Chloe
    San Diego’s beloved French bistro is closing due to California’s unfair labor laws
  3. The Best of San Diego 2018
    We crown 103 winners in food, shopping, fitness, kids’ activities, and more
  4. Javier Plascencia Eyes Barrio Logan
    The award-winning chef is all over Mexico, but looks to make a San Diego comeback
  5. Stop Killing Chloes
    How California is very knowingly killing the mom and pop restaurant
  6. First Look: El Jardin
    Native chef Claudette Wilkins goes from Bracero to Top Chef and, finally, to her own dream
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Promotions

Vote Now for Your Orangetheory Winner!

Winners will be announced at our Sweat event on May 12

Not Your Grandma's Orthotics

New year, new – shoe? Staying on your feet for long hours at a time just got a whole lot more comfortable with Wiivv’s BASE custom insoles
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit Module

Connect With Us:

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Sponsored

Ten Pet Friendly Palm Springs Restaurants

Ten Pet Friendly Palm Springs Restaurants

AquaVie: 10 Reasons It’s Downtown’s Best Kept Secret

The best workout and spa getaway around? It’s actually right underneath your nose.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags