Robert Amezquita graduated in 2012 from the University of California, San Diego with a B.S. in bioengineering and biotechnology. During the summer of 2010, he participated in the EXROP program with HHMI investigator Susan Kaech at Yale University, studying the development and differentiation of memory T cells. In the fall, he will begin a Ph.D. program in the department of immunobiology at Yale University.
Q. How did you become interested in research?
A. It’s been like a train that goes from 0 to 60, and I’m still gaining momentum in terms of figuring out what I want to do. I was looking through my books today, and I think they really define who I am. I have a Joy of Cooking book because I love cooking, and science is exactly like cooking in nature. I also have entrepreneurship books, and venture capital books. I love the business aspects of science, and translating technologies from the bench into people’s hands. And I love the mathematics and physics of the engineering, and defining in quantitative terms all of the biology that we’ve come to know. I’m still figuring out exactly where I want my focus to be, but I would love to continue to evolve in my career and do all sorts of things.
Q. Where do you see yourself in the future?
A. I hope to be a young leader in the sciences, whether that’s through academia or industry. In either case, I want to go beyond whichever bubble I happen to be in, breaking the barriers between the university lab and the company R&D department. I strongly believe in bridging those gaps and reaching out into the community.
Q. As a scientist, how can you impact your community outside of the lab?
A. Science is a field that requires as many perspectives as possible, so getting people from diverse backgrounds is only going to be beneficial to the sciences and their mission. Developing that through outreach in disadvantaged communities is mission critical for science. Our work is not just at the bench, it’s out in the field with people. We need to take that seriously.
Going beyond, bridging gaps, going out into the community, making an impact, not only at the bench but in social aspects, too – I think the value of that needs to be continually communicated. It’s not even just about diversity – it’s about really creating meaningful change, even at the personal level.
Photo: Paul Morigi/AP Images for HHMI