Steven Huan Liang
Where and what is your current position?
As an Assistant Professor, my responsibility involves the following: mentoring graduate students and postdoctoral fellows within Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, performing translational research in the topics including novel radiochemistry labeling and PET biomarker development, host seminars and give public presentations, publish research articles, file patent applications, participate in academic research meetings, and volunteer in committee service.
Is your current career path as you originally intended?
Yes. Being an academic scientist who can perform both basic and translational research was always my goal.
How does this job relate to your graduate degree?
My PhD study focused on the basic chemical research on chemical bond formation and its application to synthesis of bioactive natural products. The comprehensive training during my PhD at UBC enabled me to invent and develop new translational research tools and imaging probes in my current work and carry out molecular imaging studies that facilitates disease diagnosis and drug discovery.
What motivated you to pursue graduate work at UBC?
My PhD advisor, Prof. Marco Ciufolini is a great mentor for my career. His stellar research experience in chemistry and mentoring skills motivated me to pursue my PhD at UBC.
What did you enjoy the most about your time as a graduate student at UBC?
Freedom in academic research – I always had a chance to try innovative (in other words, crazy) ideas and methods in chemistry during my PhD. This unique experience and systematic training helped me to find new research directions and sharpen my vision to translation.
What are key things you did that contributed to your success?
Persistence. Think big and think smart.
What is your best piece of advice for current graduate students preparing for their future careers?
Working with a good mentor in an interactive and proactive manner is the key.
How did you find out about/obtain your current position?
I was first exposed to the concept of positron emission tomography – a molecular imaging technology – towards the end of my postdoctoral research. Then I learned of the current job opportunity through the collaboration between Harvard Chemistry (my postdoctoral lab) and Division of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (NMMI), Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), followed by an official announcement at the institution website. The interview process was smooth and interactive. My research vision and skill sets (obtained from UBC and Harvard) in basic and applied science is a perfect fit for translational research in NMMI program at HMS and MGH.
What challenges did you face in your graduate degree, or in launching your career?
Effective communication with colleagues and mentors is always the best way to overcome the challenges in various situations.
How are jobs normally posted and filled in your organization or industry?
Departmental or institutional emails and/or website announcement.
What do you like and what do you find challenging about your current position?
New ideas, approaches, and challenges that can shift current research paradigms