My name is Elie Maksoud, and I am the new career and professional development fellow at iBiology. I am Lebanese-French, and I have been a Bay Area resident for the last six years.
What is your educational background?
I hold a Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular biology with a focus on neurobiology. I started my education in Lebanon, where I received my bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from the Lebanese University. Later, I moved to Strasbourg in France and joined the laboratory of Jules Hoffman, a pioneer of studies on innate immunity. I have always been fascinated by the brain and, most notably – its immune system, how it functions, and the different ways it relates to disease. The main focus of my Ph.D. research project was to understand how inflammatory responses in the brain affect the pathological evolution of Alzheimer’s disease. For my postdoc, I joined the lab of Pejmun Haghighi at the Buck Institute in the San Francisco Bay Area. There, my research focused on understanding the molecular mechanisms that underlie neurodegeneration induced by the Parkinson’s disease-related gene LRRK2 as well as understanding the role of the role of the gut microbiome in relation to Alzheimer’s pathology.
What got you interested in science communication/education?
My interest in science communication and education goes back to tutoring high schoolers while I was an undergrad. I liked finding creative ways to make complex science more accessible and understandable. I enjoyed seeing my students grow and understand new concepts.
I continued teaching and mentoring throughout my Ph.D. and Postdoc. As part of my training, I have also had the chance to develop my public speaking skills by presenting my research in the lab, institute, and at conferences. I enjoyed speaking and sharing my science so much, that during my postdoc I began considering science communication as a career path.
In addition to my scientific background, I am a photographer. At the Buck Institute, I had the opportunity to leverage my artistic skills to take, edit, and produce photos, videos, and social media posts working very closely with the science communication and marketing teams. I have also volunteered to be part of the outreach efforts in classrooms and other local communities on behalf of my institute. That is when I started appreciating the public’s excitement to learn about science and the lack of reliable resources available to them.
All of these experiences together have shaped my expectations for my career. I wanted to be involved in the communication of science and the transmission of knowledge, key elements for the development and continuous progress of modern societies.
What do you do at iBiology?
At iBiology, I work with the career and professional development team to develop a new online course on science communication. The purpose of this course is to teach scientists how to give an effective science talk by providing early career researchers with the necessary frameworks and concepts to develop their communication skills. The course spans all the different stages of preparing for a talk, from the moment you get a speaking opportunity, to thinking about your goals and messages, creating and designing your slides, and delivering your talk. I am part of the production, creating the outline of the course, filming and editing the online video content, and generating the written supporting materials. In parallel, I am also participating in the development and execution of the marketing and dissemination strategies of the new course.
What do you like about working in iBiology?
I am thrilled to be working at iBiology. Every day, I come to work excited about all the new things that I will learn, the skills that I will be able to develop. I am always looking forward to spending time with my colleagues who share my excitement for science and communication. I enjoy our conversations and especially those about improving the career development and training of biology students and biomedical researchers.
iBiology provides an amazing environment and all the tools encouraging and supporting personal and professional growth.
Lastly, working at the UCSF Mission Bay campus has its perks with the resources and environment available to us. The central location of iBiology in the heart of San Francisco allows me to walk to work but also enjoy all the great restaurants and coffee shops nearby.
Follow Elie on twitter @Elie_Maksoud.