Gratulacje to Peter Sobolewski, our January Advisor of the Month! Peter, an Assistant Professor in Biomaterials and Microbiological Technologies at West Pomeranian University of Technology in Poland, is a regular contributor to our Advisor forum, helping other Advisors guide themselves and users they support. Peter comes from a lineage of scientists and thinks Mendeley is like a second brain!
How did you get into your field and what is your research story?
Ever since I was a child I knew I wanted to work in research, since both of my parents were scientists. However, I was always interested in biology, so when it was time for college I chose Biomedical Engineering, which was a hot field at the time. As an undergrad at Duke University, I had a chance to work with Prof. Laura Niklason, a pioneer in vascular tissue engineering. This was extremely exciting and not only confirmed my passion for research, but also ignited a keen interest in the vascular system. Finally, this experience led me to pursue my PhD in bioengineering, at UCSD. I’ve been working in the field of vascular bioengineering ever since.
Where do you do your research/work the best? What kind of environment suits you?
This is a hard question, as it really depends. When I’m working in the lab, I find I make most of my progress or breakthroughs after hours, when I’m alone and have the ability to completely focus on the problem at hand. However, I find that a collaborative environment is very important and I very much enjoy brainstorming with colleagues at a white board and, of course, get much help in the lab from students and colleagues as well.
In terms of writing, I like having some music on and big blocks of time, such that I can stream as much text out as possible. Then, I work on editing and adjusting it to a more final form. At this stage, I find it extremely valuable to have colleague in the office to bounce ideas/phrases, etc.
How long have you been on Mendeley and what were you using prior to Mendeley and how does Mendeley influence your research?
I’ve been using Mendeley since December 2010. I previously used EndNote, Reference Manager, and briefly Zotero. I’ve been using reference management software since 1997 or so, thanks to the influence of my parents. Initially, my main goal was managing citations while writing. Mendeley has brought a true paradigm shift for me, thanks to the full text searching of stored documents/abstracts/etc. It’s like a second brain. I conscientiously use the web importer to throw any and all interesting papers or book chapters into my database, knowing I can always find them. Further, the iOS app is also fantastic when on the go, in the lab, or at a conference.
Why did you decide to become an Advisor and how are you involved with the program?
I’ve been an unofficial advisor or advocate or whatnot since 2011, because my experience with Mendeley has been so fantastic. It’s easy to get excited about it and want to share, and I’m a naturally chatty person. When I became a faculty member last year, I decided I may as well see about becoming an Advisor. As a teacher, I have access to the “soap box,” so to speak, allowing me to directly expose my students to Mendeley, which I think is invaluable to students working on papers, thesis projects, etc.
What academic/researcher/librarian would you like to work with or meet, dead or alive?
This is an impossible question for me as I have a great interest in the history of science and scientific discoveries. I can not choose one person, so I will cheat and offer 2, a preeminent biologist and a preeminent engineer: Charles Darwin, preferably during his voyage, and Nikola Tesla.
What book are you reading at the moment and why?
I’m presently about half-way through The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins. This is a long overdue reading of a classic. Next on tap is Steven Pinker’s book Sense of Style. I am also always hunting for inspiration by (re)reading chapters from Alan Lightman’s book The Discoveries, a wonderful collection of anecdotes, history, and original scientific works of some of the most important discoveries of the 20th century.
What is the best part about working in research?
Trying something truly new and the sense of excitement that goes with it. Closely followed by the sense of accomplishment when something really works and you can explain why.
And the worst/most challenging part about working in research?
I think it’s the trend to marginalize methods and techniques in research publications. It makes it harder and harder to repeat things and also harder to use recent papers for teaching students.
What is the one thing you want people to know about Mendeley?
It’s not just a reference manager, it’s a full text document searcher–a second brain!