Andrew Evans, PhD
The NICHD Connection recently held a Q&A session with Dr. Andrew Evans, a former NICHD fellow, to learn about his career path in a non-bench position. Read on to find out about Andrew's experiences!
Q: What is your current position, and what do you do?
A: I'm a contractor with Computercraft Corporation working at NCBI as a RefSeq Curator. The RefSeq database provides a non-redundant, comprehensive set of DNA, RNA, and protein sequence standards for model organisms. As a curator, I analyze publicly available sequence data from GenBank to create reference sequence standards, review literature for specific genes and write gene summaries, and collaborate with other bioinformatic databases to provide a comprehensive resource for information on individual genes (Gene; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/gene/).
For more information about the RefSeq project: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/RefSeq/
Q: How did you find out about this job?
A: I initially applied for an opening with Computercraft to work at GenBank (also NCBI); I found the advertisement using Jobfox. I didn't hear back from the company for weeks, but sent a follow-up email and was invited in for an interview. Computercraft decided not to hire me for GenBank, but the GenBank team recommended me for an open position at RefSeq. A week later, I had my interview with RefSeq and was offered the position.
Q: Did you do anything in particular at the NICHD to prepare for your career transition?
A: Not so much in the lab—most of my scientific credentials for the position came from my Ph.D. and a previous postdoc, but being at NIH was critical for learning about "alternative" career options and opportunities. In particular, I took full advantage of the incredible resources offered by the OITE.
Q: Do you have any particular likes or dislikes about your job?
A: At work, the best thing about my job is that it's perfect for my personality and work style—detail-oriented, organized, and rules-based. On a personal level, I really enjoy completing projects every day and the 8-hour work schedule—my schedule is no longer at the mercy of experiments. This became much more of an important factor for my career after my son was born and I searched for a different work-life balance.
Q: Do you have any advice for fellows who are thinking of entering this career field?
A: Absolutely: one of the best places for a career in bioinformatics is right here on campus! The NCBI website is an excellent place to start learning about the bioinformatics databases that are out there, both national and international; also check out http://www.biocurator.org/. Make some contacts at NCBI, and look for bioinformatics seminars and workshops at NIH. Also, if you're a biologist (like me), know that you will use your science every day, and your Ph.D./postdoc skills are exactly what are needed for this career field.
Q: What are your long-term goals having made the transition into your current position?
A: My long-term goal is to increase my bioinformatics knowledge and skill set so that I am able to take on greater responsibilities here at NCBI and for RefSeq, and have a long, stable, and successful career.