There’s this question about what constitutes the optimal set of individual qualities that lead to a successful PhD in science. This is a loaded question as there are so many interrelated considerations. People are different and everyone has his/her preferences of how to work in the lab. If I were to comment on which individual quality I respect, the ability to stand one’s ground and be assertive in defending a viewpoint is probably on the very top of my list. This trait speaks to one’s intellectual maturity and capacity to take a stand when it matters. In every PhD there is a time when a student has to take control over a field he/she feels passionate about, circle the wagons, and have the guts to voice a strong view. In this regard, I found David Evans’ answer to the question “Which advice would you give to someone who is embarking on a career in science now?” both eloquent and instructive. This talk was recorded at the 2013 National Organic Symposium. Please take a look – the question/answer are at around 1:15:49 in the link below.