1. What made you want to be a chemist?
I enjoyed chemistry in high school and continued to enjoy chemistry at MIT. When I made a polymer in an advanced organic chemistry lab, I was hooked and then pursued my PhD in polymer science and engineering at UMass, Amherst.
2. If you weren’t a chemist and could do any other job, what would it be – and why?
After graduating from MIT, I was accepted to both graduate school and medical school. If I wasn’t a chemist, I would probably have been a medical doctor (not sure what type though).
3. How can chemists best contribute to the world at large?
We can advance knowledge. We can take advantage of these advancements in knowledge to influence policy and create better products for the future. I’m particularly interested in tissue engineering/regenerative medicine where we can design polymers for use in tissue regeneration and delivery of drugs/therapeutics.
4. Which historical figure would you most like to have dinner with – and why?
Both Ralph Waldo Emerson and Abraham Lincoln are revered in our family (our sons are named after them, in part) – they were both great thinkers and great leaders. This would be an interesting experience.
5. When was the last time you did an experiment in the lab – and what was it?
When I was on sabbatical, I learned how to obtain primary neurons in Drs. Freda Miller and David Kaplan’s labs – this was in 2003. The initial “sabbatical” became the basis for a PhD project, which Laura Yu completed (4 years later). I also recently did a demonstration for my son’s grade one class last week (April 2008) on dissolving an egg shell in vinegar – but this probably doesn’t count as an experiment!
6. If exiled on a desert island, what one book and one CD would you take with you?
I would take the book on “How to get off a desert island” and bring a solar-powered iPod.
Molly Shoichet is in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry at the University of Toronto and works on tissue engineering strategies to promote regeneration after traumatic injury in the central nervous system and targeted delivery in cancer.