Scientists Rock! is a monthly Q&A where we pull an AbbVie scientist out of the lab to hear what makes them tick. This month, we chat with Theresa Dunstan, scientist, AbbVie Bioresearch Center.
The maze-like hallways of high school were a chamber of secrets for muggle and self-proclaimed chemistry geek, Theresa Dunstan. But it wasn’t until one fateful afternoon of potion practice that her professional future was forever sealed in the sorcerer’s stone of scientific discovery.
Tell us the story of how you fell in love with science.
I always had an interest in science growing up, but high school is where I really fell in love with it. My first chemistry class brought with it a whole new world of discovery. Conducting experiments, running chemical reactions and interpreting the results … these were all so exciting to me. I also had a phenomenal teacher who was a huge source of inspiration and made chemistry a ton of fun. On one memorable occasion, our class hosted a Harry Potter-themed ‘potions’ class where we got to perform ‘magic’ for a group of local elementary school students. My favorite … a chemical reaction resulting in ‘elephant’s toothpaste’.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
A number of things: teacher, meteorologist, veterinarian, forensic scientist. I always knew I wanted a job that emphasized both learning and problem-solving, and that would continue to challenge me. Being a chemist gives me all of this, with the added bonus of being able to help people through the development of new medicines.
What is your advice to kids interested in a career like yours?
Science is really a lot of fun, especially if you like learning. It can be hard work and frustrating at times, but I like to emphasize this … the rewards are worth it. Observe, question, experiment, and be creative.