Phillip Geter, Ph.D., is a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University of Medicine and former graduate student at NYU School of Medicine. While in graduate school, Phillip specialized in cancer biology research, and specifically, studied the impact of translational control pathways on tamoxifen resistance in estrogen-receptor-positive (ER+) breast cancer.
Phillip grew up in in the Prince George’s County part of Maryland, and moved to New York City to pursue his graduate degree. According the Phillip, New York City differs from his hometown, specifically, in respect to the 24-hour transit system in New York City and the ease of food delivery.
What’s your favorite thing about being a scientist?
“Getting to tell other people that I am a scientist. I love the reaction I get when someone asks me what I do for a living, and I reply ‘I’m a scientist.’ Actually, I never saw myself as a scientist when I was younger. I always thought I would be a physician. But after my freshman year of college, I was introduced to research and I was hooked.”
“My second year and part of my third year in graduate school. This is where the work truly begins, when your project begins to sink or swim. Sometimes being a good scientist means knowing when to change directions and ask a different question. Well, I was at that point and I thought my project was sinking. I went through every emotion from anger to depression. I talked about my project to several people and found a solution to my problem. And just like that my dissertation was born.”
Have you ever made something explode or otherwise wildly go wrong in lab?
“Well I guess I did ‘technically’ make something explode once in the lab. I was doing an organic synthetic reaction and needed to bubble in hydrogen chloride gas. So I set up my hood and began the experiment, well I guess I had the gas flow too high, but the the tubing blew out of the reaction and began to spray hydrogen chloride gas all over my hood. Not a fun situation.”
Science is really hard but it can also be really fun and rewarding. Learn to deal with the frustrations and celebrate the triumphs.
If you could give one piece of advice to young scientists or students, what would it be?
“I would say do not be afraid to ask for help. Everyone needs help at some point and it does not make you any less intelligent than anyone else. If science is your passion then go for it! I learned this lesson the hard way.”
What is the funniest/strangest thing that you’ve seen in NYC?
“I saw a woman hug a tree outside of the NYU Medical Center. I will admit it caught me by surprise.”