What is your current Job Title or Role?
P.h.D. Candidate in Evolutionary Biology/Behavioural Ecology
What advice would you have for young women who are interested in a STEM career or job?
Follow your passions, not what you think will be a plausible career, the rest will figure itself out. Get work experience early, to see if it's an environment you can see yourself in, and that it lives up to your expectations!
How did you get to where you are today?
I've always had a love of animals, but I wasn't massively academic at school and when I left school I was kind of set on being a rockstar and enrolled on a music course at my local college. That didn't work out for a variety of reasons and then I enrolled for a BTEC National Diploma in Animal Management. I loved learning about all the different aspects about animal science and health and I was much more engaged with science than I had ever been at school as it was applied to something I was interested in. I did various work placements at veterinary practices, the Monkey Sanctuary in Looe and at a Whale and Dolpin NGO in Tenerife. I then applied to go to university to study Zoology, and ended up at my first choice, the University of Exeter, at their Cornwall Campus in Penryn. It was quite a big jump from my BTEC but I just worked hard to ensure I was understanding everything. I became particularly interested in research and did a research placement in a evolutionary biology lab with fruitflies and worked on a turtle conservation project in Cape Verde. For my third year honours project, I ended up working in another evolutionary biology lab working on Broad-Horned Flour Beetles and thoroughly enjoyed the experience so I applied to do a Masters by Research with my project supervisor and the PI of the lab which I conducted my research placement in to create a project that was geared towards my interests, again with flour beetles as a model species. From that the perfect PhD came up here in Plymouth which I started in 2016, which was a continuation of the kind of work I'd been doing for my masters, but with fruitflies again!
What do you do on a daily basis in your work?
Fruitfly maintenance and husbandry, setting up experiments with a variety of environmental treatments in which to place the flies, analysing and extracting video data for behavioural experiments, using R to carry out statistical analyses, writing up the work in PhD thesis chapter or research paper form!
Who or what inspired you to get into STEM?
The natural world, as cheesy as that sounds! The more I've learnt about animals, the more I have wanted to know, which is what has lead me to this very niche corner of science!
What do you enjoy most about your role?
Even though I've been immersed in my area of research for 5 years now, there's still things that blow my mind because they're just too cool and crazy to fully get your head around. The intricacies of the natural world is endlessly fascinating to me, and getting to indulge that fascination is pretty great! Research can be really tough and trying, but when you take a step back to see the bigger picture of what you're doing and working towards, it's never not cool!
What do you like to do outside work?
I still love music! I play the guitar, bass and ukulele and go to gigs and festivals as much as I can. I love arts and crafts too, but I'll mostly be found hanging out with my cat, Happy Cat. I adopted her earlier this year and she is the cutest ball of fluff I've ever known!