Who are you, and what do you do?
My name is Kevin Dalby, and I am a professor at the University of Texas at Austin. I currently run an active research group in the field of chemical biology. Work in my laboratory converges on mechanisms in cancer where we discover new cell signaling processes and develop new molecular tools to aid our understanding. Our studies have elucidated new mechanisms by which cancer cells send communications, and identified molecules with novel mechanisms of action to inhibit them. I also direct a collaborative drug discovery program whose primary goal is to develop new lead compounds for translational studies in oncology.
What has been one insight or lesson that has been most helpful in your career?
Probably the most important lesson I have learned is no matter what the situation, one can never be over-prepared, whereas the converse is certainly not the case. This has always driven me to work hard and to prepare for anything I do, so I can say I did my best.
What has been your favorite mistake? A mistake that in retrospect led to a great lesson and progress.
Perhaps, being too hard on myself when things didn’t turn out as I had hoped. The self-doubt this can create ultimately does no good at all. So I think I have learned to adopt a much healthier outlook and assess, adapt, and try harder.
Project forward ten years. How will your industry or field be fundamentally different then? What opportunities do you see?
It is humbling to look back at scientific publications from just a few years ago and appreciate the progress made each year by all the researchers throughout the world. Ten years is a very long time to project ahead, and it is impossible to know where the next significant breakthroughs will be. However, one thing I can say with some certainty is that we will have access to a massively increased amount of scientific data, and to be successful, we will all have to adapt to use it effectively.
What are some bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
It is more what is not said than what is said. To succeed as an academic scientist requires dedication, and effort and so a passion for the work is a must. My recommendation is to stay true to yourself, find what you are passionate about and pursue it.
In the last two years, what have you become better at saying no to?
Faculty at an extensive teaching and research-oriented university like UT Austin have a wide range of responsibilities, which include education, administration, and research. Each year I have become better at balancing these and, in large part, by carefully choosing where to apply my time and effort best.
What is the one book you recommend most often and why?
I would always recommend ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’ for its sheer exhilaration and anything by Winston Churchill. If one can look past some of his views that were quite contemporary for the times, one surely must marvel at the resilience of the man.
What advice would you give a smart and ambitious recent college graduate? What advice should they ignore?
When taking a position on your work, be relatively conservative, and support your position by preparing as much as you possibly can.
What is your favorite quote, one you aim to live by?
A notable quote to keep in mind would be one by Johnny Cash “All your life, you will be faced with a choice. You can choose love or hate…I choose love.”
I can always be reached through my website https://www.kevindalby.com.