Pierluigi Delmonte is a chemist at the US Food and Drug Administration, USA. He has been a member of AOCS for 7 years. In 2016, he won the Hertbert J. Dutton Award in the footsteps of his mentor, Pete Yurawecz.
How did you get involved with AOCS?
Although sometimes we may have flashback memories from the decades we spent as members of the AOCS community, sometimes it is helpful to close our eyes and remember the way we were. Yes…there was a world without Webex, Zoom, webinars, and even Youtube! Those days feel very far behind, but in reality, they are not. In those days we were frantically waiting for the AOCS Annual Meeting to get together with our peers and exchange our novel discoveries.
In 2001, my first year as visiting scientist at the US Food and Drug Administration, my mentor Pete Yurawecz brought me to my first AOCS Annual Meeting in Minneapolis. It was the CLA era, a research theme that made many leading lipid scientists extremely passionate. I recall that every talk was followed by intense discussions which continued in the corridors, and during every break between talks attendees quickly associated in small groups for fervent discussions. It was in that occasion that I was introduced by Pete to the many leading lipid scientists that later shaped my professional career. In the following 20 years it felt imperative to return every year and reconnect with the same community.
What is a memorable moment in your career?
It may sound cheesy, but an outstanding scientific discovery or novel study may not be deemed of such value unless it is recognized by the surrounding community. Don’t we measure the value of publications based on the number of citations? In 2002, during my second attendance to an AOCS Annual Meeting, in Montréal, my mentor Pete Yurawecz received the Herbert J. Dutton Award for his career achievements. At that time, I would not have fantasized that a decade and a half later, in 2016, my own work could also be recognized by the same prestigious award.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in their career?
Contemporary society requires each of us to act like a leader and to excel above others. While those desires may later become true as we progress in our profession, pursuing them at an earlier stage may result in isolation and scientific solitude. In my 20 years of lipid research, I witnessed that the most remarkable discoveries required the joint effort of several bright scientists. In my opinion a network of dedicated collaborators is the most valuable asset a researcher may have, particularly when new to the scientific community. Besides…how much joy may you get from a stunning scientific discovery if you do not have anyone to share with the excitement from the daily progresses?