Kate Bredbenner is a graduate student in the Laboratory of Cellular Biophysics at The Rockefeller University, where she studies HIV. Kate grew up in rural Pennsylvania, near her grandparents’ farm. She is the first person in her family to attend college, and the first person in her extended family to pursue a PhD. When Kate is not in the lab, she’s running her YouTube series, Simple Biologist, where she breaks down complex scientific research topics via whiteboard.
According to Kate, “An estimated 1.5M scientific papers are published a year. That’s ~3 papers per minute! I’ve spent a long time developing the ability to read and understand these papers, and I think there’s a lot of interesting and important stuff out there that people would want to know.”
Kate is also dedicated to a variety of science outreach organizations, including the BioBus, BraiNY, and Know Science. Her goal is to develop a career where she can talk to the public about science in a fun and informative way.
If you could give one piece of advice to young scientists or students, what would it be?
“Have clear goals for yourself. Know what you want. They don’t have to be big goals all the time. It can be something as small as passing an exam or asking your teacher why they got into teaching. You can also have big goals like get into college or publish a paper. It is impossible to know what steps to take if you don’t have a goal in mind.”
There’s a lot of conflict in science and not a lot of communication. There is the stuff your boss wants, the stuff you want, the stuff people in your field want, etc. It can get really confusing and feel like you’re being pulled in a lot of different directions. You just have to keep your goals in mind and be confident and flexible.
I once broke a window in a very expensive research building with a stray magnet. I was building a Rube-Goldberg device where a balloon with a magnet in it was popped to set off a Newton’s cradle, but when the balloon popped, the magnet shot into the window and cracked the whole thing. I am now banned from building Rube-Goldbergs.
Check out Kate’s video on HIV:
Check out Kate’s video on mosquito behavior and infectious disease transfer: