I always tell my students to take every opportunity, because you never know what is going to come from it. Value and embrace your free spirit, and don’t necessarily follow the path that someone lays out for you.
Manu Platt’s pursuit of diverse interests and experiences has propelled him to great heights as a researcher, mentor and origami master, through a journey that he never would have predicted—but one which has imparted critical lessons and mentors along the way. “For example, studying abroad was a defining moment for me; it got me to see global problems and bigger picture issues, and now in my lab, we focus on a lot of global health challenges. It set me back from graduating early, but it transformed me and my career 15 years later.”
"In origami, sometimes you make a fold to guide you in a future step, which makes me think about all the pieces that people have put into place for me just to help me get to this place I am now. Sometimes you make all of these creases that at the time have no payoff, and you don’t see what is going to happen until later, when you have to make this one magnificent, difficult step, and then you see how it all comes together into something beautiful."
One of these magnificent steps for Platt was being selected as a Keystone Symposia Fellow, at a stage in his career when he was just starting to make a name for himself. As a junior faculty member at Georgia Tech, he was invited to participate in this Diversity in Life Science Program on leadership development, which immerses Fellows in Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) meetings with academic and industry thought-leaders, and pairs them with a mentor from the SAB for career-development training.
The Keystone Symposia Fellows Program was a formative experience for Platt, inspiring career goals beyond his wildest imagination, and introducing him to mentors and collaborators to help him get there.
Through his mentor and other relationships formed with SAB members, Platt was able to extend the reach of his research and networks to advance his career, while also learning how to plan for long-term scientific and career success. “The program offers a behind the scenes view into how science policy is decided, where leaders in the scientific community come together to discuss where to drive the future of science,” he says.
Platt takes these lessons with him and gives back as an avid mentor in his community, and to incoming classes of Diversity Fellows. “Science and mentoring just go together,” he says. “To see that network grow and build is pretty fantastic.”
Find out more about the Keystone Symposia Fellows Program Here
Shannon Weiman earned her PhD in Biomedical Sciences from the University of California, San Diego, specializing in microbiology and immunology. Prior to joining the Keystone Symposia team, she worked as a freelance writer for leaders in academic, industry and government research, including Stanford University’s Biomedical Innovation Initiative, the University of Colorado’s Biofrontiers Program, UCSF, the FDA and the American Society for Microbiology.