Why did you decide to become an academic?
Madhavi Krishnan (MK): I don’t believe I made a conscious decision to be a scientist. I have been experimenting and tinkering around for a long time. When I was ten or eleven years old, we had a lab in the children’s room that took up almost half the available space. I tend to see this as a kind of activity I’ve always enjoyed engaging in and continue to have the opportunity to do.
What do you like best about your work?
MK: What I like best is the part where an idea pops into your head and then you go into the lab to see what Nature might have to say about it. You engage in the process and need to listen with an open mind
Did you experience any dry spells or obstacles in your career?
How did you overcome them?
MK: I’ve always had the freedom to choose the scientific questions I wanted to work on. So I just pursued things I found interesting, never really setting strategic goals. This did involve some risk, but nothing insurmountable in a larger sense.
Who has given you the most support during your career? And what about in your personal life?
MK: My research environment has always been enormously supportive. On the family front, my parents have been a defining influence. Very early on my mother, editor-in-chief at an influential publishing house, was an endless source of books on science, and even set up the lab we had at home. My father, an architect, often helped out with experiments, and may have tacitly fostered my disposition toward this path.
Did you have role models who have influenced your career? Who?
MK: Back in high school, I was greatly influenced by someone I have come to regard a mentor in the truest sense. My mother introduced me to a retired University Professor of Mathematics, who took on my mathematical education outside of school. He was the finest of minds and a sterling example of independent thought and being.
How do you maintain your work-life balance?
MK: I am currently building up my research group at UZH. I have very little free time.
What advice do you give to young researchers considering an academic career?
MK: There are no general rules for an academic career. Research is a calling; not a job. Do it if you love it. There is just no other reason.
University of Zurich
Department of Chemistry
Phone: +41 44 63 54465
E-Mail madhavi.krishnan (at) uzh.ch