Ibrahim Cissé unlocks cells' secrets using physics

11/7/2018 10:29:59 AM CPLC Staff

Ibrahim Cissé expected to join his father’s law firm one day. “There were no scientists where I grew up in Niger,” says the MIT biophysicist. “I certainly didn’t know [science] was a profession one could do.” 

But Cissé’s parents had a telling clue about their young son’s eventual career path: a door sign he made that read “Laboratoire de Cissé.”

Cissé learned about experiments in books, but his school in Niger’s capital city of Niamey didn’t have a lab. So, when he was about 10 or 11, he converted a storage room in his family’s house into an experimentation space. Behind that handmade sign, he tore apart electronics, rewired them, built new things with the parts and dreamed about becoming an astronaut on the space shuttle.

 “People knew that anything that went into my lab was fair game for me to break apart,” he says.

At 17, Cissé moved to North Carolina to learn English. Later, on registration day at North Carolina Central University in Durham, a historically black college, a physics professor quizzed him about math and science and suggested Cissé major in physics. Then came the magic words: “We have a grant from NASA.” Recalling his cosmic childhood dreams, Cissé became a physics major.

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1/27/2014 Lance Cooper

The Spring 2014 Physics Careers seminar series opens on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014 with Dr. Jessica Thomas, Editor of physics.aps.org

Time: 11 a.m. on Thursday, February 6, 2014 (refreshments served at 10:30 a.m.)

Location: 204 Loomis Laboratory (Interaction Room)

Title:  A Career in Science Writing and Communication

Speaker: Dr. Jessica Thomas, Editor of physics.aps.org, American Physical Society

Abstract:  Working for science journals and magazines is a great way to stay in touch with the science community, but also pursue interests in writing, graphics and the media.  I will share my experiences working for both print and online magazines in the fields of science and technology. I will also describe how my training as a research physicist helped me in this career, and what new skills I had to learn.

Bio: Jessica Thomas received her PhD in physics from MIT in 2003 and worked as a post-doc and tenure-track scientist at Brookhaven National Laboratory. In 2006, she began a new career in science writing/communication. She has worked as an editor at Nature Nanotechnology and Physical Review Letters. She now runs Physics, an online news and commentary magazine about research in Physical Review Letters and the Physical Review.

You can see the rest of the Spring 2014 Physics Careers Seminar series here: http://physics.illinois.edu/events/seminars.asp?cal=4014