In June of 2020, Amina Asif completed her Ph.D. in computer science and was one of the few people selected worldwide for postdoctoral research in England. She worked with Dr. Jennifer Doudna on her Nobel Prize-winning research on CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing systems.

In February, I had the opportunity to interview Dr. Asif and learn more about her research and how she came to pursue her Ph.D.

Why did you decide to pursue postdoctoral studies?    

“You’re not supposed to be only a good teacher if you’re in academia, you’re supposed to have a good research profile too. I did need to be a part of a good research team so that, at some stage in my life, I’d be able to develop or create my own research lab and just explore things that I am interested in. So these postdoctoral research positions are for allowing fresh Ph.D. graduates to explore further into their research areas and to get new research ideas and, on top of that, it helps them build a better research profile which can help them grow in the field and it helps them grow in their academic jobs as well. So nowadays, if someone is in academia, Ph.D. is just not enough; you need to have a good research profile post-Ph.D. as well.”

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced?

“I like what I do, I am not very bad at it either, but I’m a very lazy person. I’m not one of those people with a very intense passion who’d pull all-nighters and keep working on stuff until they get results out of it. To give you an example, I can lie down and stare at the ceiling for hours and it wouldn’t bother me. That is not the trait you’d look for in a successful academic.

“There is one other challenge too; I do get bored of things very easily and I have the attention span of a two-year-old. That’s not very good if you have to code very long scripts for some experiments to run. And another thing that has caused certain problems for me is that I cannot memorize things. I have very poor memory, so if you teach me something and I get the gist of it I’ll be able to explain it to someone else but I won’t be able to remember the exact words.”

Any advice?

“Don’t just take things to your heart when they do not turn out the way you want them to. Ultimately, all will be fine. This simply won’t matter in a year or so. And do not choose a field for the wrong reasons. In fact, don’t do anything in life for the wrong reasons. And by wrong reasons I mean like in a competition with someone, or trying not to let someone down. If that’s where the motivation is coming from, that’s the wrong reason. Just keep your intentions good, and everything will work out.”