What is your current Job Title or Role?
PhD Researcher (Medical Studies/Marine Social Science)
What advice would you have for young women who are interested in a STEM career or job?
Don’t be afraid to try out different jobs and disciplines. I did a number of internships and placements to try and work out what I wanted to do. I am still learning and will be doing an internship at the Department for Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) next year. Get yourself a mentor (or mentors!). They have been central to my journey in STEM, my mentors have been so helpful in providing career advice and building my confidence.
How did you get to where you are today?
It hasn’t been a straight path to my PhD, but the journey has helped me to learn about myself and my research interests. From a young age I wanted to be a vet, but back in 2008 I didn’t get the A-Level grades to get into veterinary school. At this point, I felt lost and was at a cross roads having not got into University. I took a year out, reapplied and decided to undertake a BSc in Biology and Animal Behaviour at the University of Exeter. This journey cemented my interest in the marine environment, having learnt to dive when I was 16. Following my degree, I decided to move to Plymouth for the MRes in Marine Biology, based at Plymouth University and the Marine Biological Association. The MRes was an amazing learning and networking opportunity and exposed me to marine and coastal policy and law. It helped me to recognise that I was interested in the connections between society and the sea and bridging the gap between science and policy. This led me to an internship and then employment as a Research Assistant in the Centre for Marine and Coastal Policy Research (Plymouth University). In 2015, I took the leap and began my interdisciplinary PhD at Plymouth Marine Laboratory and the University of Exeter.
What do you do on a daily basis in your work?
The focus of my PhD is to understand the well-being benefits associated with a coastal site in Plymouth. Using surveys, we are exploring the impact of a coastal regeneration project (Teat’s Hill, Coxside) on the well-being of local residents. Therefore a typical day includes reviewing literature, planning and designing research projects, data analysis and writing my thesis and journal articles. I have also been lucky enough to attend and present my research at conferences in the UK, Sweden and Borneo.
Who or what inspired you to get into STEM?
I have always been interested in nature and science. My family (particularly my Mum) encouraged me to enter a career in STEM and told me “if you do what you love, you'll never work a day in your life”. The support and encouragement of my family has provided me with the opportunity to study for so many years and undertake placements and internships.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
I have relished the opportunity to become more interdisciplinary during my PhD. It has been a learning curve (as a biologist by background), but I have enjoyed learning about the fields of environmental economics and environmental psychology. My PhD also enables me to collaborate with stakeholders, engage with the public and work on research which has societal and policy impact.
What do you like to do outside work?
During my spare time, I like to travel and do anything that gets me near or in the water. I love to paddleboard and scuba dive.