One of the last pieces I worked on in 2012 was a profile of Pardis Sabeti for Smithsonian‘s “Innovators” year-end issue. Pardis is an inspirational figure for a number of reasons: Her work has transformed computational genetics; she does everything she can to make sure her research has a positive impact on people’s lives; she is, by all accounts, an amazing and generous mentor.
That said, one of the things I found most impressive about Sabeti was the way she finds time to have fun. Working as a research scientist has always been nerve-wracking and overwhelming; that’s more true than ever these days, when federal funding that’s been taken for granted for the past half-century is being called into question. Every since she was an undergrad, Sabeti has sought out ways to make sure she, and the people around her, are finding time to enjoy life.
Perhaps the reason I found this so striking is that it’s something I’m woefully bad at. Journalism is another frenetic, high-stress profession; the secular changes going on in the industry have added a whole other layer of financial uncertainty to the mix. Despite the personal and professional successes I enjoyed last year (I joined the faculty at MIT; we had our second child), 2012 was an arduous, difficult year, and there were too many days when I neglected to spend some of my time smiling and enjoying my life. I’m not a fan of New Year’s resolutions, but that is one thing I’d like to change in 2013.
I was thinking about all of this today because I came across the Sabeti Lab’s annual holiday card while cleaning out my email inbox. One afternoon when I was working on the Smithsonian piece, I tagged along as Sabeti and two members of her lab scouted an indoor trampoline park as a possible location for the card’s photo shoot. In the end, they decided to eschew flying through the air and went Gangnam Style instead. The result is below…