The ASBMR helped Chris by providing a travel award that allowed him to get the feedback and advice he needed when he was starting his lab.
Dr. Christopher Hernandez is an Associate Professor at Cornell University with a research focus on biomechanics and the microbiome. With more than 20 years in the field and 16 years as an ASBMR member, he has shared what has helped him advance in his research and his career over the years.
How has the ASBMR helped you in your career?
I was fortunate to receive the Harold Frost Award from the ASBMR soon after establishing my laboratory. The award allowed me to travel and present my early work at the Sun Valley Hard Tissue Workshop. At the Sun Valley meeting I was able to meet top investigators in the field in a smaller setting where I got honest feedback and advice that helped me choose the right direction for my lab. One afternoon at the Sun Valley meeting I went for a hike with a number of attendees. The group included other young investigators, who have been my colleagues and peers ever since. The award from the ASBMR helped me establish myself as part of the research community.
What do you look forward to at the ASBMR Annual Meeting?
The ASBMR poster session is the highlight of the meeting for me because it enables face to face discussion and learning. When I was a student I met many of the senior researchers in the field by simply walking up to them while they were standing at their ASBMR poster. A few years ago, a Ph.D. student from my lab presented a poster on the effects of the microbiome on bone biomechanics. People interested in the microbiome but not experienced with biomechanics came by the poster to talk to him. At one point I heard an “aha” from a visitor who had just learned a basic concept of biomechanics and was excitedly expressing the relevance of the concept to her own work.
How have connections with other ASBMR members helped you in your career?
I have been fortunate enough to have been mentored by many ASBMR members during my career, including Mitchell Schaffler, Robert Majeska, Karl Jepsen, Matthew Silva, Tony Keaveny, and Marjolein van der Meulen (to name a few). These professionals helped show me the ropes of the field and also provided criticisms that helped me define my approach to science. In a committee meeting I had a long discussion with one of the founding members of the society. He told me about the early years of the society, when it really was just a few labs all working on the same problem who banded together to make each other stronger. Today the society is much larger but I think the goal, making each other’s work stronger, remains the same.