Not everyone has to make the choice that David Mathews had to make, deciding between two disparate fields. But the lesson is far more broadly applicable: that is, find something you like doing.
Mathews chose between a career in bioinformatics and one in clinical medicine — he holds both MD and PhD degrees. "I actually enjoyed clinical medicine, but decided to go into bioinformatics mostly because I think there's a lot of interesting, unanswered questions that I was eager to work on," he says.
Bioinformatics, he says, allows researchers to look at questions in interesting ways and try to solve them using computer algorithms. "I actually enjoy it," says Mathews, an assistant professor at the University of Rochester.
That, he adds, is the take-home message. "Partially I made that decision because I think I can have the most impact by studying bioinformatics — but I also made that decision because compared to other forms of research that I could do, it's what I enjoy doing," he says. "Choose something with impact that you enjoy doing."
Though Mathews enjoyed medicine, he's certain of his decision. "I'm happy with the career choice so I don't think that I'll ever see patients," he says.