Name and credentials:
Kristen M. Beavers, PhD, MPH, RD
Assistant Professor of Health and Exercise Science
Wake Forest University
Your preferred contact information:
1) What does a typical day look like in your job?
My typical workday involves some amount of interaction with undergraduate and graduate students – classroom teaching, advising, or one-on-one research meetings – some amount of time dedicated to reading/writing/analyzing data, and a smaller percentage of time in service-related roles such as serving on departmental committees. The percentage of time I spend in any given area fluctuates based one the time of year: I am primarily research focused in the summer months and primarily focused on helping students graduate in April.
2) What is your favorite aspect of your job?
I love the variety in my day. I also love working with creative and collaborative colleagues who value high-quality research. That said, I am enormously thankful that my livelihood doesn’t depend on hitting an NIH payline every grant cycle. This allows me to write grants because I genuinely want to and not because I have to. I also love the opportunity to interact with (and influence!) some really bright minds who represent the next generation of biomedical practitioners and researchers.
3) What is the most challenging aspect?
Can a strength be a weakness, too? The variety is great, but it can be challenging… some days I feel like a jack-of-all-trades, but master of none. Wearing several hats makes it difficult to focus on and become excellent in just one area, but in all honesty, I think this is probably for the best fit for me.
4) What led you to this career choice?
I think I always wanted a career in academia where my time would be split between teaching and research. I’ve had several outstanding mentors along the way to show me what this might look like.
5) What do you know now that you wish you knew as an early-stage investigator?
Although I can only speak for myself, looking back it seems like things have seemed to work out for me one way or another and perhaps not in the way I anticipated. I’d try and share this perspective with my early stage self because I probably spent too much time worrying about things that were outside of my control or didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things anyway. I’ve also come to appreciate my ability to learn new things more than my current level of knowledge; once that idea really took hold I became more confident in new situations that were outside of my comfort zone or current skill set and research became a lot more fun! Lastly, and this is slightly off topic, but it is hard to disentangle the “early-stage-me” from the “pre-mom-me” so, in hindsight, I wonder why I ever thought I was busy before having kids…