Meet Marc Edwards, assistant professor of biology

August 22, 2019

Meet Marc Edwards, assistant professor of biology at Amherst College. Professor Edwards discusses why he became a scientist, a biologist, and a teacher. He also shares the greatest piece of advice he's ever gotten. Video by Noni Akintunde ‘22.


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I am Marc Edwards, and I am an assistant professor of biology at Amherst College. I teach the science of cellular motility.

As a scientist, I have questions in my head. I have questions in my head about how cells move, in great molecular detail, to manipulate, to control, and to answer questions about how and why they move.

I think, as a scientist, what it does for me is it drives me to sort of get the questions out of my head and have them answered. I'm also, as a teacher, as a mentor, as a scientist whose charge is to do those things, I'm looking for the payoff of when a student gets something. I'm looking forward to see them have their aha moments. I'm looking for the moments when they burst through my door with the answer to a question that has become their own, kind of thing. And I really like helping students, particularly young scientists find their own questions. In the summer when the students are researching, the best part of the day is coming in and seeing them working.

Why did I become a professor? Well, I knew I wanted to become a scientist, I guess there are a bunch of different options for the type of work scientists could do. But I realized that I loved teaching. I get the most out of teaching people to do the things that I do. I guess I'm trying to, constantly try to repay my old high school teacher who got me interested in science, by sort of paying that forward, and I think I've got stuck in that loop of paying it forward. And I don't think I'm gonna exit the loop anytime soon.

The greatest piece of advice I've ever gotten is a piece of advice that I give my students in the lab constantly. And I tell them, just do the thing. Jump in with both feet. Take the excitement that you have, the uncertainty and just jump in. There's time and place for trepidation and all those kind of things, but sometimes, particularly in the laboratory, because failure teaches us so much, just do the thing. We'll worry about the consequences at the end of it. We'll learn the lessons that we have to when it's time to learn them but jump in both feet.

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