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Seventeen years—that’s a long time. The very same week that Brood X cicadas emerged from their 17-year slumber in early May 2004, I received my undergraduate degree from the University of Colorado, Boulder. As I walked before friends and family, little did I know that on the other side of the country billions of cicadas were setting the stage for a spectacle I would later witness as a Washington, DC-area science writer, 17 years in the making. 

A lot happened in my professional life between the Brood X arrivals. Like I said, 17 years is a long time. I received my doctoral degree from UCLA, did a brief postdoctoral fellowship in the Chitnis lab (NICHD), and then I began the juggling act of raising two children while pursuing a science writing career. These past 17 years have been challenging, no doubt, but the winding path from one contract to the next is an adventure that I love.

I feel fortunate to have found a career path in science that suits me, and according to the former trainees at this year’s fellows retreat, I’m not alone. In this issue, our 2021 career speakers share what they love about their professions and answer commonly asked questions during the retreat. And for our fellows interested in a clinical career, Dr. Chelsi Flippo recounts fond memories from her three-year pediatric endocrinology fellowship at NIH.

I have been so impressed by the exciting goals and career trajectories of our past and present NICHD fellows. I truly can’t wait to see what the next 17 years have in store, when we meet our little cicada friends once again.  

Your Editor in Chief,
Shana R. Spindler, PhD

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