PhD Student at the University of PittsburghMelanie Peffer


What is the most interesting or unusual experience of your career? I work in a very diverse environment…not only do the people around me have very diverse backgrounds, but my coworkers are from all around the world. I regularly eat lunch and listen to people around me speak Chinese, Italian, Spanish, German and others!

What qualities or skills are important for this career? Time management, perseverance, patience, flexibility, ability to laugh at yourself when you make a mistake, excited about science, problem solving

Was there a particular person or event that influenced your career choice? My dad. When I was little he would take me to his lab with him…also he watched science-y programs on tv when I was growing up which started a lifelong interest in science.

What types of people do you interact with at your job? Lots of people…doctors, scientists, medical students, residents, undergraduates, postdoctoral fellows.

Coffee Shop Drink of Choice: Tea or hot chocolate!

Read more about her career! BiologistBiomedical EngineerResearcher

Bio:Melanie Peffer is a PhD student at the University of Pittsburgh studying Molecular Biology. She says that she sets her own schedule depending on what she needs to do that day. She works in the laboratory, but sometimes she can work from home or even outside! She said that the favorite part of her job is “the independence…I set my own hours and work at my own pace…it’s usually a fast pace, but I can still stop and say, hey I want to take a long lunch today and I don’t need to ask permission to do it or clock in/clock out for it.”

Melanie received her B.S. in molecular biology in 2009 from the University of Pittsburgh, but she said graduate school is much different. Melanie said that,“graduate training has completely changed how I think about the world around me and how I approach and solve problems. I’m more likely to question things and read more about something than take it at someone’s word. I’m also a much stronger person that I used to be and feel like I can take on anything.” The most difficult thing about her work is that most of the research doesn’t work at first. She has to keep trying and try lots of different things until it comes together.

Outside of work, Melanie likes playing in a community band, photography, bike riding and canoeing. She can also play the piccolo, and some of her friends have called her a “cat whisperer”!