One of the most difficult struggles career driven individuals face on a daily basis is successfully balancing work and family life. If you’re anything like me, you’re wondering what is the best way to approach this dilemma. Thankfully, Beyond the PhD had the pleasure of hosting Dr. Chadene Tremaglio this past February, who was able to shed some light on her various struggles related to this topic and provide some insightful advice. Dr. Tremaglio began her educational journey at the Boston University of Medicine where she fell in love with Microbiology. Her research was on the mechanism of Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) replication and transcription and she was able to obtain her PhD in 2014. Her initial interests were in teaching, however prior experiences discouraged her from this field, causing her focus to shift entirely to research alone. From 2014-2016, she obtained her Post-Doc at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard Medical school where she studied putative tumor suppression of ovarian cancer and epigenetic reprogramming. Despite previous experiences, her love of teaching did not falter. She became involved in the training of a Master’s student and technician within the lab. During this time, she obtained some valuable skills that showed her how to be independent, which significantly improved her self-confidence. While she was on her way to becoming a successful Scientist, behind the scenes, she was navigating the rough, albeit rewarding waters of motherhood. During her 2nd year as a postdoc, she welcomed her 2nd child. Her passion for bench research began to wane during this period, so she decided to move to CT, where she was able to focus more on her family. All the while, she managed to keep herself involved in the scientific arena by exploring creative avenues such as blogging, freelance science writing and illustration and even podcasting. Her blog post was entitled “The Sci-minded idealist”, which largely dealt with ways to write science-based lay articles geared towards the general public. Her freelance science illustration work allowed her to share her drawings with other researchers who used her art to help explain various scientific concepts at several different conferences.
She eventually followed her dreams of becoming a teacher, and is now an assistant professor at the University of Saint Joseph, on the tenure track. She absolutely loves what she does for a living and enjoys bringing the thrill of science to life for her students. She even finds ways to incorporate her outside interests into her current career by challenging her students to create comics based on science to enhance their learning to a higher level. One thing that stood out most to me from her talk, is that work-life balance is a myth. No matter how hard you strive to have it all, it’s just not possible. Her best advice is to prioritize and manage crises as they arise. I think these words of wisdom extend far beyond her years, she truly understands that it’s unrealistic to have a “perfect” balance. The best you can do is to take things day by day. She has found that the way to accomplish this is to build your network. Send those emails, reach out to people after seminars, collect mentors and plant the seeds that will help you to grow connections and gain invaluable opportunities. She also stresses that it’s Ok to take the necessary time for family, even if it means leaving work when there’s still things to be done. Overall, it really does take a village and Chadene, a devoted Mom and Professor, has proven this exponentially.