Hi everyone, welcome to our interview series featuring aspiring young scientists! Let's take a look together what our peer lab mates are doing/thinking/dreaming, what are their motivations, and how do they overcome daily obstacles at the lab setting :)
Our very first scientist interviewee is Neus from Australia! Neus is doing her Ph.D at the University of Technology Sydney since August 2018.
Q: What is your research about?
I am doing regenerative medicine and tissue engineering in the neural injury spectrum. My project is more a discovery project to set a new ground to find a cure for different neurological disorders by using stem cells in 3D models by using hydrogels.
Q: What/Who inspired you to follow your current academic career?
I was quite young, and I already knew I wanted to do something science related. I was always curious in understanding how things worked, specially the human body and natural phenomena. But it was seeing some really close people to me suffer from central nervous system disorders that inspired me to pursue the neurotrauma area. Currently, my biggest inspiration is my supervisor. He’s passion for his research and science is contagious. He is really protective of his work and his mindset is an example. He will always find a way to do anything he sets his intention to, there is always a way and he will find it. He is so kind and caring of all the people around him and he is always ready to help out. He inspires me, every day to be a better scientist and what is most important a better person.
Q: What are your favorite moments in the lab/ outside of the lab?
My favorite moment in the lab is when an experiment works! That rush that you get, that happiness, that joy is incredible! It is amazing to see something workout after investing so much time and energy (and money) into it. It makes all the long hours’ worth it.
Outside the lab, I love the community that we have, my colleagues, team mates and fellow students, they make things so much easier and they are there when things don’t go as planned and they get as excited as you get when things do work out! They become friends and they understand you more than anyone.
Q: What is your biggest challenge in the lab, and how do you deal with it?
One of the biggest challenges of research is not losing motivation and getting too frustrated when things don’t work or go as planned. It can be really tough when you have been planning an experiment (especially long ones) and reach the end of it and it not turning out as you expected, or it did not work out at all! And having to start all over again. Especially when you dedicated so many hours to it. Late nights and even weekends! But I like to think that everything happens for a reason and sometimes something not working may be a blessing in disguise! So, I try to remind myself that if I can learn something from it, it is never a failure!
Q: What are your future plans as a scientist-we heard that you want to bring people closer to the "magic of science"!
I would love to continue to do research after my PhD but I also love talking science, and simplify it for people who do not always understand our complicated chatter. For the past 16 months I have been involved with the science communication department at my university and I have been showing science and its magic to school groups and visitors to the university. It has been so rewarding, especially with the younger ones. That is something I would love to keep doing for sure! Oh, and keep teaching, being able to help students is also so rewarding, feeling you can help find their true passion is so great!
Q: Are there any messages you want to deliver to future scientists?
Well, I am a big advocate of women in STEM, so to all the women interested in STEM fields, please go ahead, we need more of you. Please do not be intimidated by the fact that there is still a big gender difference. Times are changing, but we need to lead the change! YOU ARE SMART ENOUGH, STRONG ENOUGH AND TALENTED ENOUGH TO DO IT.
And to anyone that loves science, be aware that things won’t always work out as planned, but that is not a negative thing, that sometimes is where you will learn the most! If not, think of penicillin, that was a complete accident!
We were truly inspired by the energy that Neus conveyed during this interview. Thank you and best of the luck to you, Neus!! ( Follow her Instagram @sciencetalkswithneus & @misstostarica)
Photo credit: Neus