Research Professor, Carnegie Mellon UniversityStephanie Tristram-Nagle


What has surprised you about your career? Is it like you imagined it would be? A lot has surprised me. I did not go straight into science. I grew up in the 60’s and women were still not that liberated. Science was still a guy thing, so it took me awhile to find myself.

What is the most interesting or unusual experience of your career? There is no single, one experience. Giving talks all over the world has been fascinating for me. It is a challenge to deliver one’s work to the public, but it is very rewarding when other scientists refer to your work later.

Do you have any special skills or hidden talents? I was a very good musician growing up. Being in science, I have let this slip, but I still could go back to it, if given the time.

What career did you imagine yourself in as a young girl? Probably a dancer, singer, or musician. I didn’t really know for a long time what I wanted to do. I knew by age 25.

What qualities or skills are important for this career? Discipline, ability to sell yourself, quantitative abilities, tenacity, creativity, love of learning.

Coffee shop drink of choice? A hot, whole-milk steamer.

Who are YOUR role models? Rosalyn Yalow, Barbara McClintockMarie Curie, Irene Joliot-Curie, Maria Goeppert Mayer, Rita Levi-MontalciniDorothy Crowfoot HodgkinGertrude Elion, and Rosalind Franklin.

Read more about her career! BiophysicistResearcher

Bio: Stephanie received her training from Rutgers University, where she received her bachelor’s degree; University of Massachusetts, where she completed her post-graduate training; and University of California, Berkeley, where she received a doctorate degree in comparative biochemistry. She was influenced to pursue her career by her father, who was a PhD organic chemist. She saw his life and wanted to be like him, but not before she explored the more feminine roles advanced to her. During a typical day at her job, she walks two miles to work, checks her email, talks to the students she is mentoring in the laboratory (graduate and undergraduate), works on experiment planning, performs some experiments, writes papers, and reads scientific articles. She meets with other faculty 1-2 times a week for discussions. The hardest challenge of her career is obtaining funding, as the funding situation is very difficult right now. However, she loves planning and carrying out experiments–sometimes with other people but sometimes alone. Outside of work, Stephanie enjoys gardening, walking, and bicycle riding on trails in western PA.