Michalina Gora - 2019 SPIE Women in Optics Planner
CNRS, ICube Laboratory, France
Country of Birth: Poland
Since my childhood, my father engaged my two sisters and me in all manual housework, from fixing radios to drilling holes in walls. He convinced me that I would love the experimental aspects of physics, and he was right.
Currently, I am a senior researcher at the French National Center for Scientific Research and together with my group we develop novel imaging methods to improve patient care. I conduct my research in the ICube Laboratory, one of the top places in France for clinically oriented research. It is very interdisciplinary work, where we try to find new ways to help doctors in localizing diseases and assisting them during treatment.
I love clinical translation of methods from the lab bench to the clinical setting. My biggest challenge was to gain confidence in my skills related to that and its importance. Luckily, I got accepted for a postdoctoral position on Gary Tearney’s team at Harvard Medical School. This was a perfect fit for me as his team strongly focuses on development and clinical translation of optical imaging methods. It was a very energetic and creative environment, and we had great fun working with medical doctors. Most importantly, we could see that the devices we developed have the potential to really improve patient care. During that time, I gained a lot of confidence to continue clinically oriented work, and to ignore comments that this is not a “real science.”
In Boston I understood how important it was to have mentors who, in addition to scientific advice, will also discuss career choices and share their experience. For example, I wish I had someone explain to me in the beginning the nonscientific aspects of the academic path linked to administration and politics.
It is most important to define what you are passionate about. This way you find the right environment and people to work with. If you do what you love, you will be motivated and you will work hard while still having fun, and that will make you successful.