Chapter 02: Administrative and Leadership Experience

Title

Chapter 02: Administrative and Leadership Experience

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In this segment, Dr. Kripke descirbes her work at the National Cancer Institute in Frederick, Maryland (1975 -1983), including her administrative experience. She set up a laboratory from scratch and eventually became head of the Immunobiology Physical and Chemical Carcinogenesis Section in the Cancer Biology Program at the NCI-Frederick Cancer Research Facility. To streamline the discussion about the development of her research path during this time, Dr. Kripke provides the manuscript of a lecture she gave on the progress of her research. She notes that the period at the NCI broadened her outlook on biology, as it was devoted exclusively to doing science and exposed her to scientists from diverse fields. She also speaks about the administrative skills she acquired (how to manage people; how to run a scientific meeting), in addition to raising her own professional profile in the field. This period, she notes, stimulated her interest in the issues of leadership -this would continue with her increasingly significant administrative roles at MD Anderson.

Identifier

Kripke,M_01_20120328_S02

Publication Date

3-28-2012

Publisher

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

City

Houston, Texas

Topics Covered

The Interview Subject's Story - Professional Path; The Leader; Professional Path; Experiences re: Gender, Race, Ethnicity; On Leadership

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Disciplines

History of Science, Technology, and Medicine | Oncology | Oral History

Transcript

Tacey A. Rosolowski, Ph.D

Fascinating. What happened after you left the Department of Pathology at Salt Lake City and went to NCI-Frederick? And the years you spent there were 1975 to 1983. Why did you—well, I think you already covered why you made the move in your previous interviews, so maybe we could focus on exactly kind of what you were doing when you were there.

Margaret L. Kripke, Ph.D

In Frederick?

Tacey A. Rosolowski, Ph.D

Yeah.

Margaret L. Kripke, Ph.D

I had the opportunity to run a major research laboratory, research program, and so I was continuing to do the work that I had started in Salt Lake City but with some managerial experience coming along at the same time. It was, again, a matter of breaking new ground in terms of the immunology of the skin.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, Ph.D

Was there any kind of new arenas of the skin’s mechanisms that you were focusing there? I’m trying to get a sense of how did it evolve? How did one discovery lead to the next? Or maybe it didn’t follow that kind of pattern.

Margaret L. Kripke, Ph.D

Well, it did, but it branched out into a whole lot of different directions at the time.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, Ph.D

Would it be relevant to talk about that?

Margaret L. Kripke, Ph.D

I don’t think so. I mean, it’s very technical. It’s fairly technical, and it was a long time ago.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, Ph.D

That’s a more relevant issue. And sometimes it’s just interesting to trace how the thought process went to see how the idea is related, but if you don’t feel that it’s something we need to trace that’s fine. How long—let’s see, because you were a scientist grade 4 and head of the Immunobiology Physical and Chemical Carcinogenesis section in the Cancer Bio Program, and what was that shift from you were hired to manage a lab, and then you had more of an administrative role or—?

Margaret L. Kripke, Ph.D

Yes, when I was at Salt Lake City I ran a laboratory, and I had a lot of supervision. There were other people who were the principal investigators on the project that I was running, and when I went to Frederick it was to set up my own laboratory from scratch to hire people, and when I had gone to Salt Lake City I had walked into a situation where most of that already existed. It was a matter of starting a new operation from scratch. I also was in the position to hire people who had PhDs and were already scientists or postdoctoral fellows, and so that was also very different trying to manage and provide research opportunities for people who were trying to establish their own research careers, so it was a very different setting.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, Ph.D

Now, of course, later on in the interview it’s going to be an important theme of your work for ensuring that women have the opportunities that they need to have in these professional contexts and I’m wondering since you—

Margaret L. Kripke, Ph.D

That came much later.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, Ph.D

It did but I’m wondering just what happened—were you aware at NCI-Frederick when you had this setting up a lab role in position to hire and of course fire, did you have any kind of sense of yourself as a woman being in the situation? How did you experience that?

Margaret L. Kripke, Ph.D

Well, it was clear from the beginning that there were not a lot of women in the field, and particularly in Salt Lake City the Department of Pathology at that time had only one other woman. It was a very large department, but there was only one other woman faculty member, and so I was very accustomed to being the only woman in the room, and so I just didn’t really think much about it. In terms of hiring and so on, I don’t think I particularly favored women candidates or worried about them any more than I worried about anybody else. My real involvement in terms of trying to support women came after I got to MD Anderson.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, Ph.D

Let’s go back to your research focus during the NCI years. What were the kind of landmark discoveries that you felt you made during that period that you—

Margaret L. Kripke, Ph.D

You’re asking me to really go back a long way. (laughs) I haven’t done science for a long time, for a really long time. I just gave a lecture, a historical lecture on the evolution of the work, which I will be happy to send you a copy of. How’s that?

Tacey A. Rosolowski, Ph.D

That’ll be great. I don’t want to put you on the spot with this. Do you want to skip to MD Anderson then? Is there anything else that you’d like to say about your experience at NCI-Frederick in terms of the work situation or experience that you gained from that to bring to MD Anderson?

Margaret L. Kripke, Ph.D

There were a lot of things to be gained in terms of the experience, both scientifically. I was in a program that had quite a diverse group of people in terms of their scientific interests, and so I really broadened my outlook in biology by being in that kind of a context, so it was a terrific, very creative environment and one that was devoted entirely to doing science, so that was the only area that we were required to do, and so that was extremely beneficial. I also learned from the program director a lot of things like how to run a scientific meeting. He thought I should host a scientific meeting on ultraviolet carcinogenesis to get myself better established in the field, and he helped me do that and really taught me how to organize and run a scientific meeting.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, Ph.D

Let me just put this on pause. (audio pauses ) Okay, so you were talking about your experience putting together this conference, and what was it that you gained from that experience?

Margaret L. Kripke, Ph.D

Just how to do it, and it had the desired effect. It really acquainted me with people who were the major movers in the field and had my work recognized as something that was unique and important in the field. The other thing that I had to learn to do was to manage people, which was at the beginning really by trial and error and more error than success, I think, and I think it was at that time that I realized the reward for doing good science is for people to promote you into positions of leadership where you have absolutely no experience whatsoever, and so I think probably during that period I became more interested in issues of leadership rather than just strictly issues of science. And before I left, the last few years that I was in Frederick I was promoted to being the program director, and that was, again, a huge learning experience because then I was dealing with people who had been my peers, and I was now leading, and they were theoretically following, although I don’t think that happened.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, Ph.D

What kind of awareness did you have at the time of yourself as a leader? Did you have a sense of your own evolving style and what your strengths and weaknesses were in those positions?

Margaret L. Kripke, Ph.D

Again, that was beginning in those days because it was—I mean, I made some awful mistakes and then came to the conclusion that that wasn’t my style. I shouldn’t try to do things if it’s not my style. The principles of leadership which carried me through my last position really started—I really started thinking about it then and started paying more attention to issues of leadership and reading articles about leadership and effective leadership because I felt so lost in terms of my inability—inexperience and inability to actually run things.

Chapter 02: Administrative and Leadership Experience

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