James P. Landers
Commonwealth Professor, Departments of Chemistry, Mechanical Engineering and Pathology, University of Virginia, USA.
Most important lesson
In training scientists, acknowledge that no two individuals are the same – different people have different needs and different strengths. Never box people in – guide as needed but give them room to be creative and they will take you in directions you might not have gone.
That I have been fortunate enough to have the success that I have had. Coming out of a small mining town in the far reaches of northern Ontario, Canada, the odds of my becoming a professor at one of the premier public universities in the US were not good.
What drew you to your specialty?
I always had an affinity for biochemistry but engineering and making “mousetraps” always fascinated me. The research in my program has a unique melding of both of these, and that combination makes me want to come to work every day.
Nominator comment: “Landers is working at the cutting edge to advance and expedite forensic testing. At the interface of the life and physical sciences, his lab is contributing analytical tools that are both low-cost and high-performance. For example, his lab saw a major unmet need for readily deployable forensic kits – and worked to contribute rapid multiplex DNA amplification using an inexpensive microdevice for human identification via short tandem repeat analysis. This creative invention and active translation is a hallmark of his research. He is also a vibrant champion for junior researchers.”