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Ryan Weiss speaks with Will about how he prioritises his responsibilities and callings, whether as a professor, a parent, a husband, a musician, a worship leader or a researcher. Each of his roles gives him the opportunity to connect with and nurture others. Looking back on his life, he observes how openings have forced him to ask who he really is and what he really wants to do, forming a path that has become his identity. He also describes how his faith in God and his work in science complement each other. This episode features music by Ryan's former band Tularosa.
Below are highlights from today's Forecast. They have been lightly edited for clarity and concision.
The big scientists that I look up to have these other sides to them, whether they're artists or musicians or anything. I think it actually does play a yin/yang kind of thing. You're using both parts of your brain. Creativity is a huge part of science....I've always wanted to play music, but it's been in different expressions. Worship is a way to be involved in a church and really plug in and form relationships with people that I really care about and be encouraged by people in those environments and also connect to God....
Different responsibilities come and go and float to the top, and you have to take hold of that. I'm not perfect, but I'm trying to figure that out. Being a dad and a husband is the most important thing out of everything...How do you prioritise or balance it all but also still feel fulfilled and still feel like you're doing what you're called to do?
Wearing different hats
In terms of being fulfilled, I'm very lucky that i have a lot of things that do that every single day. A small example is coming home from work and hearing my daughter being like, 'Daddy!', and she comes down. She's only two years old, so I've only had two years of my life that I've had that. Talk about fulfilling, that's awesome just to be able to feel her happiness and see the whole family together. That's a small thing that happens daily that's very life-breathing. That's one hat that I love to wear, a new hat that I'm wearing. Also being a husband and figuring out how to be a parent with my wife....Stepping into these collaborations. That's at home, and then at work, I have a laboratory where we collaborate with a private foundation to discover a cure for this rare genetic disease....There's about one in 50,000 kids who are born with it, and they get these bone tumours that are really painful....So our passion in the lab is to try to identify a novel drug to help them. So that's something I'm really passionate about. That's a daily drive, but something that really compels me in science is not only discovering things, but can we find things that can actually help people tangibly?
Called to enable others
I've always enjoyed teaching a lot, and I get a lot of opportunities to do that throughout my career. As I started doing it, I realised that I really loved it and felt like I was called to do it, to enable people to find their calling or making something feel attainable to people. Even If I don't feel called to be a medical doctor, how do I enable people or encourage people to reach out to those things that they never imagined?....Just being able to impart that on younger people has always felt like something I enjoy doing....Even if I'm not the best or most successful scientist who discovers something that changes the world -- obviously that's a passion as well -- but how I approach it now is, can enable the trainees in my lab to go on to do great things?
A lot of things that happen in life, at least in my life -- it's like these little doors crack open, and they're like, 'Hey, here's this opportunity'. So maybe the inquisitiveness comes into that too. Looking back, these different decisions that I've made throughout life have presented themselves without even thinking that they would present themselves to me, but stepping into that with faith or with inquisitiveness has been a major blessing. It's pushed me to new places that I had never thought possible. Somehow, now I'm a professor when I was thinking about dropping out of grad school eight years ago with the band stuff. But then things happened in life at that time that really pulled the rug out, and I said, 'What do you really want to do?' and 'Who really are you?'....All you can do is make some decision and just do your best with that.
Dr. Ryan Weiss is a professor in the biochemistry and molecular biology department of the University of Georgia. He is also a musician, a dad and a husband. You can learn more about his lab here.
Will Shine is a co-host of Forecast.