Developing a Scientific Identity in an Advisor's Shadow

Cecilia Lunardini, PhD: Developing a Scientific Identity in an Advisor's Shadow

Challenges faced with establishing yourself as an independent researcher separate from an influential advisor.

Video Transcript

Dr. Cecilia Lunardini's Bio

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Transcript: Developing a Scientific Identity in an Advisor's Shadow

The relationship with my adviser was always very positive. There was a lot of communication, respect. They way I remember my adviser is someone with a very strong, I would say, magnetic personality. He's a world-famous scientist, and his personality is really fascinating. In that paradoxically was my problem, because I was just starting. I was developing my identity as a scientist, as a researcher. Being close to such an important and influential person perhaps didn't help me with that. At the end, I think I did develop my individuality, but I had to work on it.

To create independence, to discover your own identities as a researcher, is very important to consciously cut the umbilical cord with your adviser. It is difficult. It is difficult to take one hundred percent of the responsibility, but it also means that you are taking a hundred percent of the credit. It's important to, at some point, say, "Okay, I am on my own, and I can make it." The way I did it in practice was to start working with other people that were not my adviser. At some point, I also worked by myself. I published papers as an only author. I think that was a test for myself. I felt it was a way to prove to myself that I was a mature researcher.

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