OSA | Living History

Melissa Skala Memoir

Melissa Skala

My career in optics was inspired by the fantastic people I have worked with. Prof. Mark Kuzyk at Washington State University is a charismatic mentor, and as an undergraduate in his lab, I quickly caught his excitement for optics research. It was fun to play with light and build experiments using "optics legos." Who wouldn't want that for a career?

My Ph.D. mentor, Prof. Nimmi Ramanujam at Duke is equally inspiring, and she provided me with a drive to improve human health through biomedical optics. My postdoc mentors, Prof. Joe Izatt and Prof. Mark Dewhirst at Duke are also innovative thought leaders who have a phenomenal record for mentoring independent scientists.

Now with my own lab at Vanderbilt University, I focus on mentoring my students through the joy of discovery. It has been a delight to work in optics research, and I look forward to many more years of excitement and growth.