Awesome Science Symposium Series

Information for the next Awesome Science Symposium will be available by February 2020. An article about the 2019 symposium can be found here; additional information from the 2018 event appears below. 

Let’s Have an Awesome Time Doing Science: Improving Scientists and Enriching Community

Students, postdocs, faculty, staff, and Stanford community members are invited to attend 2019’s Let’s Have an Awesome Time Doing Science (LHAATDS). This symposium will feature fantastic scientists giving extraordinary talks that will focus on the process of research (rather than the research itself) and explore how to get the most of scientific careers and improve the broader community. 

Date and Time

Wednesday, May 1, 2019
12 – 4 pm


Paul Berg Hall – 2nd Floor of LKSC
291 Campus Drive West
Stanford School of Medicine
Stanford, California 94305
Directions and Map
Directions via Google Maps


Please RSVP for Awesome Science 2019 here by April 26.

Questions? Contact Cole Sitron, and Latishya Steele,

Event Schedule and Speaker Topics (tentative; day-of times may vary slightly due to Q&A, etc.)

12:20 pm | Polly Fordyce | “Graduate students are from Mars and advisors are from Venus: the classic guide to understanding your advisor’s motivations.”

12:50 pm | Eric Pop | “How to Prepare for an Academic Job Interview”

1:20 pm | Dan Herschlag | “How to rob a bank”

2:10 pm | Kristy Red-Horse | “Motivation: a seemingly magical force that structures my day”

2:40 pm | Juliana Idoyaga | “Resilience/Mentorship”

Speakers and Bios

Polly Fordyce | Assistant Professor | Stanford University Departments of Genetics and Bioengineering

Polly Fordyce is and assistant professor in Genetics and Bioengineering at Stanford. Her lab works on developing new instrumentation to make systems-scale measurements of biophysical properties. Outside of the lab, Polly is an avid outdoor enthusiast who enjoys rock climbing, trail running, yoga, and spending time with her kids. In fact, if she weren’t a scientist, she’d love to be teaching outdoor education!

Polly didn’t finish her undergraduate degree all at once–she actually dropped out and spent two years as a waitress and river guide before going back to finish. She stays grounded in the fast-paced world of academia by remembering that even the most famous scientists still draw crowds smaller than mediocre bands just starting out, and that the things we obsess over (fancy papers, fellowships, and awards) don’t really mean anything outside of our little world. Instead, she focuses on doing the best science possible and returning that knowledge to the public so that they can feel their tax dollars were well-spent.

Miriam Goodman | Professor | Stanford University Departments of Molecular and Cellular Physiology and by courtesy Mechanical Engineering

Together with her students and postdocs, Miriam Goodman seeks to decipher the molecular events responsible for the sensation of touch and temperature. The lab’s current work focuses on touch sensation and understanding how neurons can bend without breaking and makes use of experimental approaches from genetics, the study of behavior, and cellular electrophysiology in C. elegans nematodes. The group collaborates with engineers and physicists to develop new tools for sensory stimulation and for measuring cellular and behavioral responses to such stimuli.

Miriam says that in order to blow off steam, and in spite of her PhD work studying hearing, she listens to music super LOUD and dances in her living room. She also goes for a daily bike ride. If soccer had not ruined both of her knees, she would still be playing the beautiful game as often as possible. One thing Miriam thinks is unique about her lab is that its members plan and lead their weekly meeting. One of the silliest mistakes she has made at the bench include setting her sweater on fire.

Miriam is also involved in teaching and mentorship. She currently runs a course called Diversity and Inclusion in Science, which focuses on the social science literature analyzing the factors contributing to gender disparities in the scientific workplace. If Miriam had an hour with all living presidents to discuss and provide advice relating to the current state of STEM education in K-12, she would ask them- “How do we implement universal, all-day preschool—starting at age 3? This would build learning skills in all domains, including fostering curiosity which is the foundation of STEM, and ease some of the challenges for working parents.”

Daniel Herschlag | Professor | Stanford University Department of Biochemistry and by courtesy of Chemical Engineering and of Chemistry

Daniel (Dan) Herschlag’s group aims to understand the fundamental behavior of RNA and proteins and, in turn, how these behaviors determine and impact biology more broadly. More specifically his group is interested in how enzymes work, how RNA folds, how proteins recognize RNA, and the roles of RNA/protein interactions in regulation and control, and the evolution of molecules and molecular interactions. His approach of choice is the nexus between physics, chemistry and biology – employing a wide range of techniques towards an interdisciplinary approach.

Dan believes in living a balanced life both by reading non-science fiction and testing his physical health through exercise. He believes that reading is the most efficient way to broaden one’s experience and build empathy – promoting scientific development. His passion for exercise is demonstrated through participation in not only hiking, biking and tennis, but also taking part in an early morning boot camp on most days.

If he were not in the field of science, Dan sees himself as a public interest lawyer. Undoubtedly stemming from his avid reading, sense of empathy, and trained discernment through a scientific eye. His most satisfying moments in his career come from seeing his students thrive, in and beyond graduate school. It is no surprise that now, Dan would say to himself in the past as a student and postdoc, “It gets better.”

Juliana Idoyaga | Assistant Professor | Stanford University Department of Microbiology and Immunology

Juliana Idoyaga is an assistant professor in the department of Microbiology and Immunology at Stanford. Juliana did her undergraduate work at the University of Buenos Aires, earned her Ph.D. at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, and did postdoctoral work at The Rockefeller University.

At Stanford, she is a member of several institutions, including Bio-X, Chem-H, and the Maternal & Child Health Research Institute. Her current research focuses on deciphering the unique properties of dendritic cells as they function in the immune system. She is currently a mentor to several postdocs and grad students, and her lab wishes to uphold the highest ethical standards, embrace a collaborative environment, and empower the next generation of scientists.

Eric Pop | Associate Professor | Stanford University Department of Electrical Engineering

Eric Pop’s group investigates atomically thin nanomaterials such as MoS2 to enable the development of low-power and high-speed electronics. His impactful and prolific work has led to his recognition as one of the world’s most highly cited researchers in 2018.

When he’s not in lab thinking about electronics, Eric is thinking about electronic music. Eric is an avid DJ and even served as an opening act for the Australian rock band INXS during their reunion tour. If he weren’t an engineer, Eric imagines that he would have ended up scoring movie soundtracks.

Whether it’s for a DJ gig or faculty position, interviewing is a crucial skill in career development. Come to LHAATDS to hear Eric’s talk on how to prepare for an interview.

Kristy Red-Horse | Associate Professor | Stanford University Department of Biology

Kristy Red-Horse is an associate professor in the Department of Biology at Stanford. Her lab is focused on identifying and understanding the signals that direct cell fates during organ development at single cell resolution–information that may be licensed for disease interventions. Despite her success, Kristy actively shuns obsessing and strategizing about her career. Rather, she is motivated by an intense love of data and discovery, which keeps her grounded in her science. In order to stay focused on her goals, Kristy practices meditation, mindfulness, and yoga, and actively focuses on the present moment, especially when she is with her children. If Kristy was not a scientist, she thinks she would be an artist. When asked how she would change the current state of K-12 STEM education, Kristy argues for early interventions that target the persistent and systemic gender biases in STEM. For LHAATDS 2019, Kristy will tell us what motivates her and her science.


This event brought to you by BioAIMS, the Cell and Molecular Biology T32 Training Grant, and the Senior Associate Dean for Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Affairs.