Interview with a Distinguished Colleague: Dr. Ann Gronowski
by Sharon Geaghan

I had a chance to catch up with Ann via a virtual interview, and she shares her insights with you as the next in a series of conversations with distinguished colleagues in our discipline

Q1. How did you come to the career decision to choose Clinical Chemistry as your profession?

I owe my career to Mitch Scott who interviewed me at a FASEB meeting in 1992. At that time, he went to FASEB and cell biology meetings to recruit doctoral students into the Clinical Chemistry Fellowship program. I had never heard of Clinical Chemistry, but I went to the interview. I was intrigued by the profession. I liked the idea of being able to combine my interest in research with a clinical application. Washington University subsequently invited me for an interview in St. Louis. The rest is history. I loved my training and was ultimately invited to stay on as a faculty member. I have been very fortunate.

Q2. Did you have a mentor and if so what did he/she teach you?

Mitch Scott and Jack Ladenson have both been mentors to me. They have taught me to think critically, to act with integrity, to give generously of my time, and to mentor our trainees like they were our own children. Both have led by example. I still look to both of them for advice and guidance. In return they continue to give me opportunities and advertise my achievements. I am very grateful for their continued support.

Q3. For newly-minted chemists, do you have any pearls of wisdom for career development?

You have to work hard and you have to step up to the plate and take opportunities-- even if, on the surface, the opportunity doesn't seem to have an immediate return for you. It is amazing how one thing leads to another and what starts out as not much of an opportunity can turn into something great.

Q4. What is your most enjoyable part of your professional work?

 I really enjoy working with trainees of all kinds. I enjoy teaching them, I enjoy seeing them mature and, ultimately, succeed on their own. Trainees have tons of energy and lots of great ideas. They tend to believe anything is possible, which can be so refreshing and great for research. I cannot imagine a job where I did not get to work with trainees.

Q5. What is the hardest part of your professional work?
 I enjoy most every part of my job. I guess the hardest part is not having enough time to pursue everything I find interesting & enjoy doing.

Q6. The next generation of chemists has been characterized as looking for work-life balance; do you have advice for them, in managing that balance from your experience?

I'm not sure there is a perfect balance. Every day for me is a give and take between family and profession. Find a workplace that values family. Be organized. Be willing to work in lots of places outside the office (for me that includes: home, baseball games, the car, the orthodontist’s office, and the roller skating rink!) Find community support either from family or friends. You cannot do it all. Enjoy the ride! It’s great fun to have a family and a career.

Q7. What developments would you most like to see occur in the field, over the next 5 years?
Well, related to the previous question, it would be great to see more workplaces that value family and allow (male and female) workers to juggle their busy home life. It would also be nice to see more women at the top. There is still a well recognized glass ceiling for women in science. I hope that the next generation sees more women CEOs, full professors, department chairs, and college deans.

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