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Meet Our Lab Heroes Awards Runner-Up: Pinggan Li

Meet Our Lab Heroes Awards Runner-Up: Pinggan Li
By Sam Roome 1 years ago 1263 Views No comments

Time to meet our second runner-up in the Lab Heroes Awards 2017! Of the many brilliant awards entries we received, our Scientific Advisory Board felt that Pinggan Li’s nomination really stood out.

Pinggan is currently a post-doctoral fellow in Stefano Vicini's lab at Georgetown University. She completed her medical degree at Sun Yat-Sen University, and after working in the clinic for nine years, she decided that she wanted to do research. At Georgetown, she is currently looking at the relationship between microglia and seizures.

Pinggan was nominated by her colleague Nour, who said:

“Pinggan (Jennifer) is a true asset to the lab! She has only recently joined our lab, but she is already an integral member … Upon joining the lab, she started on a project with a fellow PhD student. They are looking at the role of microglia in a subtype of seizures. The data analysis she has to complete is complex and difficult. Despite that she learned it in a week and is doing it much faster than anticipated. Upon completion of this project she will be an author on the publication. English is not her first language, but she does not let that be a barrier. She downloaded an app on her phone and is eager to learn. Pinggan has even gone out of her way to learn American idioms. It is remarkable to see someone work so hard … I am very glad that Pinggan has joined our lab and she truly is a lab hero!”

Hi Pinggan, congratulations! How did it feel to find out that your colleagues had nominated you as their Lab Hero?

I truly appreciated it, and I was surprised.

How did it feel when you find out you’d been named as one of our Lab Heroes Awards runners-up?

Amazing! I thought it was a joke at first or I was dreaming.

Why do you think it’s so important to champion life science researchers, and what more could be done to show scientists recognition?

Because this work is very important and will contribute to human health. I’d like to see more awards like this.

What are you working on at the moment?

After getting my MD, I came to Georgetown University to do a post-doc because I was interested in life sciences research. Currently, I am looking at the microglia response in epilepsy and their potential role.

Did you always want to be a scientist when you were younger, and why?

Yes. I felt like it was my duty to do research and cure patients, especially children.

What advice would you give to someone just starting their PhD?

Although I didn't do my PhD, I would say work hard and set a plan before you start.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

My colleagues.

What does a typical day in the lab look like for you?

I come in early and start my research. Then I have a quick bite to eat and go to a seminar. Afterwards, I go back to the lab and continue working and analyzing data.

If you weren’t a scientist, what do you think you’d be doing?

I would want to do something to help people with their troubles in a different way.

Outside the lab, what do you enjoy doing?

I like to exercise for at least 30 minutes per day.

What are you planning on using your Hello Bio vouchers and travel grant for?

We are going to buy some agonists and antagonists for the lab. As for the travel grant, I am looking for an epilepsy conference.

What is it about your field of research that gets you most excited?

When the results I expect come out, and I know my goal to help people is getting closer.

Which scientists working today do you most admire?

My mentor, Dr. Stefano Vicini.

What’s your favourite science joke OR science quote?

A Viktor E. Frankl quote: ”Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

What do you think is the greatest scientific discovery of all time?

The invention of confocal microscopy.


Thank you so much for speaking with us, Pinggan, and congratulations again!

Find out more about Pinggan’s work at the Vicini Lab here: