Liliane Windsor

NHSN Summer Research Institute

Posted on January 20, 2009

Intensive training can provide amazing opportunities for early career researchers, explains Liliane Windsor (bio).

I was in the process of applying for the PhD program, but I had been working in a research project at the University of Texas. So when I entered the Summer Institute, I was really not clear about what I was going to be doing, what my research was going to be. My heart had always been on street kids, especially from Latin America and their substance abuse, violence, family issues.

So the Summer Institute gave me an opportunity, first, to realize how important it really is to pursue your own interests in research because it's a long, arduous process with a lot of commitment. So if you don't like what you are doing, it becomes that much harder, and that kind of shows in the work. When you're passionate about what you're doing, it makes a big difference, so that was a big lesson that I learned from them.

The other thing, I got to meet people that I ended up being able to develop a relationship with that I still maintain to this day. It also provided me with the doorway of coming into the network and being able to draw from a really, really wide variety of resources that the network offers, not just in terms of the people that I can collaborate with, but also in terms of being up to par with cutting edge research in Latino issues.

And the Summer Institute, also, it's a ten day long program, and it's very intensive. So you get to really stop everything else that you're doing, immerse into the training, learn about the federal funding opportunities that are out there, learn from senior researchers that already have all the knowledge and understanding of how to navigate the process.

And the other important aspect that you get that usually you don't get in school is the whole politics of it. Developing these relationships is so important in terms of getting your name out there, getting to know people, and also having people get to know you. Because if you do work, it doesn't matter how good the work you are doing is: If you're not disseminating and sharing the knowledge with other people, it's only good for you. And that's not really going to be achieving the ultimate goal of research, which is really to be advancing the research knowledge base so that we can solve problems that we have in our society.

So to me the Institute offered all of that, and all of that really had a big impact in my career. And I would say it's very much the reason why I am where I am today.


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