Why You Need to Know What Motivates You, with Dr. Robert Nobles – Ep #32

Do you know, down to your core, what motivates you? Through all of your studies and work in research environments, have you taken the time to dig deep and find out what lights you up, professionally? Unfortunately, many scientists and researchers will go their whole careers without answering this vital question. Here to highlight the value of knowing what motivates you is Dr. Robert Nobles.

Dr. Nobles serves as the interim Vice Chancellor for Research at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK) and has a faculty appointment in the Department of Public Health within the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences.

In his current capacity, Dr. Nobles leads efforts and oversees research growth and compliance activities related to a UTK’s quest to become a top 25 public research institution. Robert also serves as a sub-investigator on eight community-based research projects focusing on adolescent health and chairs national and local committees focusing on enhancing research culture.

Prior to his career in academia, Dr. Nobles served as a public health prevention specialist for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and as a program manager for the state of Florida’s Department of Public Health. He completed his Doctor of Public Health at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston with a triple major that included health policy and management, epidemiology, and health economics; and he received his Master’s Degree in Public Health specializing in Epidemiology, and his Bachelor’s degree in Molecular Biology from Florida A&M University.

What You’ll Hear On This Episode of When Science Speaks

  • [1:03] Mark introduces his guest, Dr. Robert Nobles.
  • [3:15] What is going on with the these measles outbreaks?
  • [7:20] Robert talks about what drew him to health and health care policy work.
  • [10:30] Digging deeper and addressing complex topics.
  • [17:30] How is Robert able to distill complex scientific findings into simple terms?
  • [20:30] Why you need to understand what motivates you.
  • [25:00] The most meaningful work Robert is engaged in.
  • [28:30] Robert talks about mentor and mentee relationships.
  • [33:00] We need to make science fun!
  • [35:30] Advice that Robert has for students and researchers.
  • [39:15] The role of adversity in shaping you for future success.

Connect with Dr. Robert Nobles

Resources & People Mentioned

Know thyself

It sounds pretty elementary but taking the time to understand how you operate as an individual is critical to navigating your professional career. You’d be surprised at the number of researchers and scientists who haven’t taken the time to do a personal inventory and analysis of their skill sets. Drilling down, Robert Nobles discovered that his lower-middle-class family background provided him with a unique opportunity to distil complex topics in a palatable way for broader audiences.

Robert’s skill in distilling complex topics is best illustrated by his work monitoring beach water quality for the state of Flordia. When asked by a reporter to explain what was going on with the water quality as if he were talking to a five-year-old, Robert replied by saying, “You wouldn’t go swimming in your toilet, would you?” This comment helped highlight the severity of the situation and allowed many people to jump on board and start working toward a solution.

Encouraging collaboration and clear communication

Following the thread of knowing how you operate, Robert also sees a huge potential for growth in the area of mentor-mentee relationships. Let’s face it, scientists and researchers aren’t exactly known for their ability to communicate well – that needs to change. Robert encourages his peers and students to be as upfront and honest as possible about what they expect to get out of a mentoring relationship.

Clear and direct communication is essential if you have any hope to get your message across on a micro and macro level. It might not be easy for you to do at first, but if you can assert yourself and let others know how you operate and what your unique skill sets are – the better prepared you’ll be to advance in your career.

Dr. Robert Nobles has a plethora of helpful insights and perspectives to share. Make sure to catch his full conversation with Mark on this episode of When Science Speaks.

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