Recent alum Zoe Weiss (MCB ‘23) has published an essay titled “What I Owe My Mentor” in the journal Science. The essay highlights the contributions of her mentor postdoc Saurja DasGupta, who worked alongside Weiss in Jack Szostak’s lab at MGH.
“I hope this essay reaches other undergraduate researchers and mentors and that they can benefit from the lessons that took me four years to learn,” Weiss says. “The responses so far have recognized how fortunate I was to have someone mentor me across the scientific spectrum, from conducting wet-lab experiments to developing analytical tools to critical thinking and writing papers and proposals.”
Weiss wanted to convey the value of mentorship to younger undergraduates, so she published an essay about what she learned from her mentor in Science. “I had the privilege of working alongside an exceptional mentor, whose generosity in sharing his knowledge and expertise played a pivotal role in my training as a scientist,” she says.
In her essay, Weiss highlights the way DasGupta helped her learn from mistakes and guided her through experimental design. “Soon after I took my first steps into a research lab as a bright-eyed, first-year college student, things went awry,” she writes. “I left all the enzymes at room temperature overnight, not knowing they needed to be stored frozen. This setback could have discouraged me from performing solo experiments. But it didn’t, thanks to the kindness of my mentor. Saurja, who was a postdoc, didn’t respond with anger or disappointment after I ruined all the newly ordered enzyme stocks. Instead, he patiently guided me through the principles of enzymatic activity and how they vary with temperature, turning my mistake into a teachable moment.”
Thanks to her mentor’s guidance, Weiss has continued her career in research. She is currently working as a post-baccalaureate fellow in Francis Collins’s lab at the National Institute of Health.