World Renowned Scientist, Dr. Pardis Sabeti Returns to Make Science Infectious for Prep Cadets

Dr. Sabeti returned again this year for another interactive session with SMA Prep cadets as part of The Inspire Project WebEx speaker series. The Q and A with cadets was timed to coincide with “Outbreak” a unique infectious disease outbreak simulation that has become a student-driven event and a campus highlight for 4 years running. This year’s simulation received extra support after Dr. Sabeti received one of ten L’Oréal “For Women in Science” grants and teamed with SMA Prep.

Many cadets were curious about Dr. Sabeti’s views on failure and success. Her advice for the short-term was to “deal with failure by going through the emotions,” however, long-term you have to remember you are going somewhere bigger then you may be able to see now. She also reminded cadets that as a scientist most of her days are filled with failures. “Science is a continuous disappointment. It’s a career that is made on the few times you succeed but most of your work are failures.”

As one of Time Magazine’s TIME 100 most influential people in 2015, she was asked if she feels pressure to always be successful.  She replied that nothing really matters that much if you are living a good life and caring for those around you. Recognition and success are, “not what makes a person because all of it you don’t have any control over anyway”. Time Magazine was a surprise but once you do it, it’s no big deal. “Spending more time with the people who you surround yourself with is more exciting.”

Cadets were also curious about what kind of student she was. “When I got to MIT, I struggled because everyone had grown-up with science all the time and I didn’t.  Nobody thought I would succeed.” Cadets assumed her science fair projects must have been amazing. She admits to having horrible projects, procrastinating on completing them.  “You don’t have to win the science fair to become a professor of genetics.” You need to remain curious your whole life. She credits her parents with pushing her to be who she is and also surrounding herself with people who enjoy what they are doing as well.

She explains to cadets: “People will pull you down. Have three buckets of people: 1) truly good in any context do good by other people. 2) Rotten nature or nurture, miserable and want to make you miserable. 3) Middle of the road, want to be good but struggle. Seek out mentors colleagues and friends in the first bucket and avoid the rotten and try to help those in the middle to find their way.” Surround yourself with really great people. If everyone feels supported everyone has a better experience.

Her final words of wisdom: “Be successful in school. Not as much in how you study, but about your own quality of life. When you are happy and healthy your brain works better than other peoples. “If you are doing it right work shouldn’t feel like work. Find something you enjoy doing”.

About Sarasota Military Academy

Founded in 2002, Sarasota Military Academy is a public charter, middle school, and high school located in Sarasota, FL. As an authorized International Baccalaureate (IB) World School, SMA provides students with a 21st-century learning experience immersed in daily military principles of honor, respect, and leadership. Combining extraordinary academics with the highest military principles of camaraderie, focus, leadership, integrity, compassion, poise, honor, and respect, SMA’s mission is to graduate young men and women who will confidently define their personal and unique goals for success in a multicultural and globalized world. More information is available at

About Dr. Pardis Sabeti and The Sabeti Lab

Dr. Pardis Sabeti is a Professor at the Center for Systems Biology and Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University and the Department of Immunology and Infectious Disease at the Harvard School of Public Health. She is an Institute Member of the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, and a Howard Hughes Investigator. Dr. Sabeti is a computational geneticist with expertise developing algorithms to detect genetic signatures of adaption in humans and the microbial organisms that infect humans. The goals of The Sabeti Lab are to use computational methods and genomics to understand mechanisms of evolutionary adaptation in humans and pathogens. We are pursuing these goals through 3 research foci:

  • Developing analytical and experimental methods to detect and investigate natural selection in the genome of humans and other species.
  • Examining host and viral genetic factors driving resistance to Lassa Fever in West Africa.
  • Examining signals of natural selection in pathogens, including Lassa virus, Ebola virus, and Plasmodium falciparum malaria to understand how they rapidly evolve and studying their genetic diversity to guide long-term intervention strategies.

Dr. Sabeti completed her undergraduate degree at MIT, her graduate work at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, and her medical degree summa cum laude from Harvard Medical School as a Soros Fellow. Dr. Sabeti is a World Economic Forum (WEF) Young Global Leader and a National Geographic Emerging Explorer and was named a TIME magazine ‘Person of the Year’ as one of the Ebola fighters. Her awards included the Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award for Natural Science, the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise, the NIH Innovator Award, the Packard Fellowship, and an Ellis Island Medal of Honor. She has served on the MIT Board of Trustees and the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Women in Science, Medicine, and Engineering. Dr. Sabeti is also the lead singer and co-songwriter of the rock band Thousand Days. Find out more at

About L’Oreal USA For Women in Science

The For Women in Science program was created out of a simple belief: the world needs science, and science needs women because women in science have the power to change the world. The L’Oréal USA For Women in Science fellowship program awards five women postdoctoral scientists annually with grants of $60,000 each for their contributions in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields and commitment to serving as role models for younger generations.  To learn more visit

About The Inspire Project 

Guest speakers changing student lives 30 minutes at a time…  a simple, individual 30-minute video conferencing session by every age, walk of life and occupation that have followed their dreams and succeeded.  The session will take place one at a time at the choosing of the participant’s availability.  The series derives its strength from the people that provide inspiration for the young students to not only believe in themselves but in their dreams. To find out more about the 2017-18 Project Earth speaker series visit