Interview with Molly Grandcolas

August 8, 2022
Yasmina Ibsen

Molly is a Research Associate II at RAPT Therapeutics and an enthusiastic Studylog expert. 

Where did you grow up? Where did you go to school?     

I grew up in Burlingame, California just south of South San Francisco on the Peninsula. I went to high school at Burlingame High School, and then got my bachelor's in Biology at UC Santa Barbara. I am currently applying for my PhD in immunology. 

What sparked your interest in Science? 

I've always been interested in science from a young age. As a kid I spent a lot of time playing with plants and bugs in my backyard and reading books about germs or outer space. Science was my favorite subject throughout school. My dad also had a large influence on me, as he worked for Nasa and helped foster my interest in physics and biology. 

Did you have any specific role models? If so, who were they?

My father was definitely a role model for me. He supported my interests by buying me children's books related to immunology and chemistry, science kits, sending me to "mad science" camp, and buying me supplies to build my own bug condos in the backyard. As I got older we would talk about more complex subjects like Quantum physics and String Theory. I still borrow books from him about evolution, consciousness, chaos theory, etc and we like to talk over the phone about pieces of literature we read.

What would you say to a young person considering a career in science? 

Absolutely do it! It's an extremely fulfilling career if you are truly interested in science. It doesn't feel like clocking in and out for a paycheck. It feels like the work you do can actually make a difference and help people in need. If you are passionate about a certain facet of science, explore that. I was passionate about immunology so I got into research. I've worked at RAPT Therapeutics for almost 3 years and can honestly say I understand the old phrase "it doesn't feel like work when you love what you do."

What is important to you personally? I.e.what things do you value most in life? 

I value my relationships with my family and friends the most. They light up my days and bring me joy in life's dark moments. I also have the cutest black cat named Lulu and she is my most precious possession. I call her my shadow because she never leaves my side. 

What are some of the challenges you have faced either in your career or personally that you feel have helped you become the successful person you are?  

Having ADHD has absolutely been a large challenge I've struggled to overcome. When I was younger it was extremely difficult to be quiet in school, pay attention, or sit still long enough to comprehend a subject. Time management was a huge issue for me as well. I grew up thinking I must be stupid, since my behavior and way of thinking seemed to differ so much from my peers'. As I got older I realized I could actually understand subject matter taught to me in school very well; I just needed to fight through the fidgeting and distractions. I believe my ADHD has helped me become an outstanding researcher, because my brain is always "on" at 100% and looking for solutions, for the next steps, for explanations to unexpected results of a study. I am able to take in complex information and draw connections to other subjects, make analogies, and explain to my colleagues in a way that makes sense to them. ADHD makes my thought process unique, benefits my critical thinking skills, and has facilitated my deeper understanding of science. 

How has Studylog impacted you or your team? 

Studylog has greatly benefitted our team by allowing us to quickly and easily collect essential data, then churn it out into a full comprehensive excel report with the click of a button. I am unable to estimate how much time Studylog has saved our team, simply because I cannot fathom working in our line of research without using Studylog. I've become the go-to Studylog expert on my team and some of my responsibilities include entering new studies, creating and refining templates for our different modules, troubleshooting, and creating new features and tasks in the dictionaries tab to reflect the needs of our ever-changing research purposes. Studylog is a dynamic software that makes it easy to edit and manipulate parameters to perfectly fulfill our evolving needs. Additionally, the troubleshooting team is just lovely and I love working with them, as they are always happy and eager to help and can give us one-on-one support in a timely manner.

What would you say to people who prefer to use Excel because it is free?

Stop it! Why would you ever fuss with Excel when a program like Studylog exists and does everything Excel can, plus much more. You will save so much valuable time and frustration by switching to Studylog; it is incredibly easy to navigate and includes any possible feature you could ever need for animal research. It is also fully customizable, by which I mean if there is any custom calculation, tissue collection item, clinical observation lexicon, etc that I want to add to a specific template or study, Studylog gives me the option to do so. It is more than worth what we pay to use it.

What is your favorite Studylog feature?

My favorite Studylog feature is the task dictionary. A while back I was responsible for refining all of our study templates and creating new ones to specifically match the demands of our programs (i.e. oncology efficacy vs. oncology titration studies, atopic dermatitis vs asthma studies, etc.) and the dictionaries tab made it so easy to do this. It lets me link specific tasks to specific templates and modules, which saved me so much time. Even today, when new demands arise, I can easily edit our templates to fulfill those demands through dictionaries.

What do you do for fun outside of the lab? 

I love spending time with my family and friends, trying out new recipes (I became somewhat of a chef during quarantine), playing with my cat, or working on my art projects.