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Vital Signs

Investigator Insight

In this section, we highlight the human side of biomedical investigation, putting a few questions to a researcher at DMS-DHMC.

Deborah Hogan, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Microbiology and Immunology

Hogan joined the Dartmouth Medical School faculty in 2004. She studies microbe-to-microbe interactions at a molecular and genetic level, with special emphasis on the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa and the fungus Candida albicans, commonly known as yeast.

How did you decide to become a scientist?

I've always liked the biological sciences. The biggest factor contributing to my decision to go to graduate school was the research experience that I had as an undergrad. After working in a lab, I thought that a career as an academic researcher would likely suit me well. Without experiencing research firsthand, it would have been very hard to make an informed decision about whether or not to pursue a Ph.D.

Are there any misconceptions that you find people have about your field?

I'll speak on behalf of microbes. Understandably, most attention that microbes receive relates to their roles in disease. Microbes can also be extremely beneficial to human health and are essential to the functioning of different ecosystems. The positive roles of microbes are often greatly underappreciated.

What advice would you offer to someone new in your field?

Take opportunities to talk to people about what you work on. Many people have interesting ideas and helpful advice.

Who were your scientific mentors?

I've had extremely good luck finding excellent mentors. The research I am currently doing has been influenced by approaches I learned in several different labs.

Do you always have a working hypothesis in the lab?

We are working on multiple projects in the lab. Some of the earlier projects have very broadly defined hypotheses, while more developed projects have more specific hypotheses that we are testing directly. I'm certainly not afraid of the occasional "look-


and-see" experiment—sometimes you get lucky.

What bores you?

Rehashing the same problem over and over. I would much rather try some "solutions" that might not work out than spend too much time dwelling on a problem.

Finish this sentence—"If I had more time I would . . ."

I'd spend more time involved in science outreach or science education. I would also step up my summertime quest to find the perfect lobster roll (one without mayonnaise).

What's your favorite nonwork activity?

Taking long walks in downtown Boston, on the Cape, or in the New Hampshire woods. Finding (and enjoying) a new restaurant comes in a close second.

What music or radio programs do you listen to most?

Recently I've enjoyed listening to flamenco guitar—although Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon is in my computer's CD player right now. Apart from music, I listen to a lot of public radio. This American Life is my favorite radio program.

What do family and colleagues give you a hard time about?

I'd hate to make it too easy for my family and friends by listing all of the things they give me a hard time about. I do get teased for having a lot of freckles.

Fill in the blank—"I'd rather be . . ."

I grew up in Boston, so I was going to say "celebrating a Red Sox win in the World Series," but then my wish came true! I am in fact still celebrating the Red Sox winning the World Series.

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