Katherine Andrews
September 27, 2023 --

Academic Journey: Sara Gonzalez

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With the start of a new school year underway, we got to reminiscing about our own experiences as students, researchers, and faculty. This sparked the idea for a new series where we spoke with a variety of people in ReadCube and Digital Science who have backgrounds in academia to explore their experiences, their career path so far, and their hopes for the future of research and science. We hope you enjoy, and perhaps experience a spark of inspiration.

What is your name, where are you from, and what did you study?

My name is Sara Gonzalez, I’m originally from a small town in Indiana (USA) and now I live in Gainesville, Florida (USA). I have a PhD in seismology from the University of California, Santa Cruz, a B.S. in geophysics from Caltech, and a MLIS (Library and Information Studies) from Florida State University.

What do you do now? What has your career path looked like?

I’m currently a Product Evangelist for the Papers reference management software. This means that I reach out to customers to help them use the software and bring back requests and issues to the support and development teams. I’ve had a twisty career path, starting off with majoring in astronomy and physics as an undergraduate. I switched to geophysics to study earthquakes in my junior year after I was in the large 1994 Northridge earthquake. That led to graduate studies in seismology and later work at a small research company focused on using seismic data to locate and verify nuclear explosions. Eventually I missed working with students so I found a tenured faculty position in the science library at the University of Florida. I spent 17 wonderful years as a librarian and then decided to explore life outside of academia. I’d always been impressed with Digital Science and luckily ended up with a tremendous team at Papers.

Did you expect to end up where you are now when you were a student?

No, my goal when I started college was to become an astronaut!

What do you wish you knew when you were a student?

I was a first generation college student so there was so much I didn’t understand about navigating higher education and research. I wish I would have known about the support services at my universities but I didn’t know where to find them or even if they existed. As a former librarian, I want to highlight that the library is a place where you are always welcome to visit and ask questions about anything you need.

What advice do you have for students right now?

Even though there is a big push to pick a major and finish as quickly as possible, try to take as many different kinds of classes as you can to explore and gain interdisciplinary knowledge. Technology, science and the world move rapidly and the best way to prepare is to be flexible and well-rounded in your skills and knowledge.

What are you most excited about for the future of science or research in general?

I’m excited about the potential impact of open science and the increase in collaboration of researchers globally and across various fields. While these trends aren’t new, I’ve recently been impressed by how quickly discoveries are being made using publicly available datasets, like the recent release of JWST images, and by the transparent replication of early findings, such as the testing of the proposed low-temperature semiconductor LK-12.

Do you have advice you would like to share with the Papers community? If so, please drop a comment below.

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