RNA Faculty Spotlight – Laura Scott, Ph.D., Biostatistics, Public Health

Laura Scott, Ph.D.

Research Professor
School of Public Health

email: ljst@umich.edu

  • What are your research interests?
    I want to understand how a persons sex, genetics and physiology influences both gene expression and degradation to create differences in gene expression between people, and how differences in gene expression influence disease.
  • Who/what brought you to science?
    When I graduated from high school wanted to be a doctor, a teacher or an interior decorator. By the end of college I wanted to be a college teacher of a biological science. I went to graduate school so I could teach, but I discovered I really liked research.  I’ve tried many fields throughout my academic career. I get intellectually restless every 7-10 years.  I moved from Chemistry (undergraduate),  to Cell Biology (PhD and postdoc), to Epidemiology (MPH and postdoc) and to Statistical Genetics (postdoc and Professor).  I’m currently headed back towards something that sounds like Statistical Cellular Biology. Interestingly my work as a researcher encompasses all three of the careers I envisioned for myself in high school: I want to improve health via understanding biology, I really enjoy mentoring students and I best like pictures to understand data and develop idea.
  • What advice would you give to students who’d like to get more involved in research?
    Try summer research programs, learn math and statistics as they are increasingly important for many biological disciplines, learn the computer language R, cultivate curiosity and perseverance.
  • Are there any opportunities for students to engage in your projects, currently or in the future?
    We currently only take graduate students.
  • What skills would they need, and what could they expect to learn?
    If we took undergraduate students, they would need skills in R, a strong interest in math or biology, or, ideally, both.
  • What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
    Given greater skills than I actually possess, I would like to be a potter with a wood-fired kiln.