Joanna Kelley

Joanna Kelley

Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences


Washington State University

Milestones

My road in life has been direct.
I grew up in sunny California with a mathematician father and a biologist mother.
I decided I wanted to go elsewhere for college (why?!) so I moved across the country to go to Brown.
I originally wanted to focus on math, but during my sophomore year, I realized I also loved biology.
I realized I could combine my two interests and study the applications of math within biology.
I got my Ph.D. from the University of Washington, then did a postdoc at the University of Chicago.
After completing my first postdoc, I moved back to California to do a second at Stanford University.
I decided to become a professor so I could have the flexibility to conduct my own research.
Keep following my journey

Education

High School
Santa Cruz High
Bachelor
Mathematics, General
Brown University
Bachelor
Biology/Biological Sciences, General
Brown University
Doctorate
Genome Sciences/Genomics
University of Washington-Seattle Campus

Career

Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences

I run a research laboratory - I conduct genomics research, teach, and serve the scientific community.

Career Roadmap

Roadmap
My work combines:
My work combines:
Science
Education
Accomplishing Goals

Day to Day

If it's a day that I teach, I'll spend time preparing for class by going over my lecture slides and notes. I'll go to class and interact with my students, then head back to my office to read articles and books, conduct online research, analyze data, and check and send a lot of emails. I'll also spend time checking in with my undergraduate and graduate students, as well as with my lab manager. On any given day, I'm a researcher, an educator, a boss—I get to wear many hats and it's a lot of fun.

Skills & Qualities Beyond School

The most valuable skill that any researcher can have is curiosity, and you can't necessarily learn that in a classroom. Research in general is about learning new things about a system, a field or exploring a new idea, and then taking that knowledge to the next level. Curiosity is very helpful if you want to be successful in a research field.

Advice for Getting Started

Here's the first step for college students

You may have a rare opportunity to do research as a high school student and if you do, you should definitely jump on that but most research opportunities will come at the undergraduate level. Start participating during your freshman or sophomore year so that you have extra time to find a lab that's aligned with your research interests. Research, like many careers, is a lot of work, so you want to get into a research lab early so you can make sure research is something that really excites you.

Recommended Education

My career is related to what I studied. I'd recommend the path I took:

undergrad
Bachelor
Mathematics, General
undergrad
Bachelor
Biology/Biological Sciences, General
doctorate
Doctorate
Genome Sciences/Genomics

Hurdles

The Noise I Shed

From Society in General:

"You're in the minority as a woman in mathematics."

Challenges I Overcame

Balancing family and career