Patrick Boyle Off to Private Sector
After four years as a Postdoctoral Scientist in Professor Gregory Martin’s Lab at BTI, Patrick Boyle has moved to Chesterfield, Missouri to spend three years in Monsanto’s ‘Emerging Leaders in Science’ program. This prestigious appointment, won from a large field of applicants, after more than three days of interviews, will rotate Patrick through various research areas at Monsanto, beginning with work with the Disease Traits team. “I like change. Because of these rotations and the nature of private sector science, I think the challenges I will be facing will be changing quite frequently…I think that will work for me personally; it’s not for everybody, but I like change and for me I think it’s going to be a good fit.”
Pat always knew he wanted to be a scientist. After completing undergraduate and PhD at Brock University in St. Catharines, Canada, his advisor encouraged him to do postdoctoral work with Greg Martin at BTI. “Greg was a very good as a mentor. He let us be creative and take risks, but he was also very careful to keep us in check in terms of making sure that we did not conclude too much from our results. He was very good at helping us design, control, and interpret our experiments, so that we could properly assess the impact and value of the tools and results we were producing.”
Patrick honed his communication skills while at BTI, especially while giving presentations in Greece and Manchester this past summer. “One of my goals is to communicate science to everyone. I don’t just want to pursue my own personal understanding of these phenomena, I don’t think that’s really my end game. I want to understand our findings and their significance, I think that’s an essential part of the job, but I can take just as much pride in creating a perfect slide to communicate a concept to a lay audience as in designing an experiment to address or answer a specific question. In terms of the creativity that’s involved in science, it’s not just useful to have creativity at the bench top, designing experiments, a lot of times it’s about finding creative ways to concisely convey information. I take a lot of joy and a great feeling of accomplishment from putting together a good presentation, good slide, or a good analogy, and those things take work, just like designing and executing experiments take work.”
“BTI helped prepare me for this opportunity in the private sector. Karen Kindle, BTI’s VP of Research, came from private industry, and was incredibly helpful in assisting me to prepare for the interview. The Monsanto team were testing [the applicants’] abilities to work in teams and resolve conflicts, more than technical skills and scientific knowledge, because they are looking for people who are capable of collaborating, so they assess your ability to work with people, that’s what they’re really after.”
Dr. Boyle expects Boyce Thompson Institute will remain on the cutting edge of plant research. “I benefitted from Triad Foundation funding while at BTI that gave us the support to develop new tools, explore and innovate. A lot of molecular biology skills are transposable and apply to both mammalian and plant cells. We have been exploring basic defensive mechanisms in plants that could have wide ranging impact, even relative to human immunity, once understood. It was great to be able to study the elemental language of biology, knowing that down the road, that knowledge could be put to specific uses.” While at BTI, Patrick spearheaded three successful Triad awards applications, two of which were collaborative efforts with Sarah Hind in the Martin Lab, along with Inish O’Doherty and Josh Baccile of the Schroeder Lab.
‘This is a feature of BTI, because of things like the Triad grants, we were able to go after really exciting high-risk high-reward projects. That was the most exciting part for me. The ability to do novel high-risk research, that was born of my own creativity, or collaborative creativity, with other labs, I just really delighted in doing what other people weren’t doing. That was fun for me.’