#BeBoldForChange this International Women's Day

Wednesday, 8th March 2017 | General | 2 comments

International Women's Day is an opportunity to celebrate all the accomplishments of our female researchers, and their talents in producing world-class medical research.

As part of this year's celebrations we asked our own female scientists to share their stories about their scientific journeys so far. 

Georgia Greaves, PhD Student

What interested you about a career in science?

I really enjoyed studying the different sciences at high school, especially biology because our teacher was amazing. As I was growing up cancer was becoming more and more of an issue globally, so having the chance to explore novel ideas and contribute to the knowledge of cancer biology to help improve future therapies, was really exciting to me.

How did you get to where you are today?

My undergraduate degree was in Cell Biology and French, (I get a lot of comments about this strange combination!), at the University of Manchester. I then did a Masters degree in Cancer Biology at The University of Montpellier in France. The project I did in France helped me decide that I wanted to continue in research, and also provided me with the skills I needed to apply for a PhD.

What’s your biggest career achievement?

Tough question but I’m really happy at the moment since our group just published a paper that we had been working on for a while which contains some of my data. It’s really satisfying to know that my work is now available for the whole world to see and utilise!

What advice would you offer someone looking to pursue a career in science?

It’s important to get some experience in the field, even if it’s just doing labs at undergraduate level, or visiting a lab for a day to see how real science is done. The most critical thing is to find something you’re passionate about, and want to improve the understanding of. I love expanding my knowledge of cell biology and it still boggles my mind that thousands of processes are going on within a single cell at any one time. Nature is amazing!

Lucy Ireland, PhD Student

What interested you about a career in science?

I was always interested in a career in science as I have always enjoyed biology, and a career in science means everyday would be different, and would allow me to make new and exciting discoveries.

How did you get top where you are today?

I studied BSc Genetics with industrial experience at the University of Manchester. My degree choice included a year working for an oncology pharmaceutical company; this allowed me to gain more first-hand research experience, and to acquire skills which I use everyday in my research career.   After finishing my degree I decided to pursue a PhD in oncology, as I wanted to be involved in new discoveries that lead to effective treatments for cancer.

What’s your biggest career achievement?

My biggest career achievement so far has been the publishing of my co-first author paper in the Cancer Research journal last December - Chemoresistance in Pancreatic Cancer Is Driven by Stroma-Derived Insulin-Like Growth Factors.

What advice would you offer someone looking to pursue a career in science?

My advice to someone looking for a career in science would be to try and get the most hands-on experience they can.  Acquiring technical skills and dexterity are key aspects which are needed in the lab. This experience will allow you to explore the areas of science you find most interesting.


Fiona Bailey, Post-Doctoral Researcher

What interested you about a career in science?

I’ve been interested in all aspects of science from a very early age, and what really appealed to me about a career in a scientific field was that I would be at the forefront of exciting research, and that I would have the opportunity to tackle major issues which impact society.

How did you get to where you are today?

I studied Biochemistry at the University of Sheffield. It was during that time that I realised I really enjoyed laboratory based practical modules, and that I wanted to pursue a career as a research scientist. The next logical step was to work towards a PhD, which despite being challenging was also very exciting.

What’s your biggest career achievement?

So far my biggest career achievements were obtaining my PhD in 2014, and having my work published in peer-reviewed journals.

What advice would you offer someone looking to pursue a career in science?

My advice if you are looking to pursue a career in science is to be motivated about the field that interests you. Also, if there is a lab with a research area that you find interesting and you would like to have more information about then send them an email and let them know you are interested, and enquire about projects they have on offer.


Valeria Quaranta, PhD Student

What interested you about a career in science?

Science is essential to understanding the amazing diversity of life. I was fascinated by the ability of our genetic information to direct the specific organisation of complex structures, such as the human body. That is the main reason why I studied biological science.  Today, I am proudly involved in cancer research, and believe the combined efforts of scientists can aid in improving the wellbeing of our society.

What’s your biggest career achievement?

Obtaining a NWCR funded PhD fellowship is my biggest career achievement. This gave me the opportunity to join a stimulating research group in the University of Liverpool and to develop my own research project.  Becoming a PhD student has been an important first step in developing my relevant skills for a future career as an independent researcher.

What advice would you offer someone looking to pursue a career in science?

Science offers a great career opportunity for people that are thirsty for knowledge and extremely curious. It is a very challenging field that requires passion and perseverance, especially when results are not as expected. A career in science is dynamic; every day is different and there is always the thrill of discovering new things! I would strongly advise people to pursue a career in science, especially women. Working as a scientist requires independent thinking, an innate talent for problem solving and creativity to bridge between different subjects and people. These are skills all women possess, and are necessary for building a successful career in science.


Jenna Kenyani, Post-Doctoral Researcher

What interested you about a career in science?

I have always loved science and found it fascinating. I wanted a career that allowed me to do some good. To me being a science researcher meant I was not only able to keep doing a subject I loved, but that there was a possibility that I could play a part in helping to find new cures/drugs to help people.

How did you get to where you are today?

I knew at school I wanted to be a scientist so I did three sciences for A level. I then came to Liverpool University to do a degree in Biochemistry which I passed with a 2:1. I stayed at Liverpool University to do a PhD and was fortunate to gain my first Post-Doc position, in cancer research- which was my dream. I am now half way through my second Post-Doc position investigating eye cancer.

How will your work help people suffering with cancer?

I am currently doing research involving eye cancer. Although this is a very rare cancer there is little to no treatment available resulting in a high mortality rate. I am hoping that through my work we will be able to understand more about this cancer allowing us to discover new treatments and drugs for this form of Cancer.

What’s your biggest career achievement?

My biggest achievement is completing my PhD. I am dyslexic so writing a thesis seemed like an impossibility at times. I still feel a huge sense of pride that I was not only able to overcome this difficulty and write a rather large thesis (approx. 80,000 words!) but I was able to successfully complete a PhD, and gain the title Dr.

Prof. Sarah Coupland, North West Cancer Research Centre Director

What’s your biggest achievement so far in your career?

Having three wonderful children but still being able to continue working as a diagnostic pathologist, and establish a successful research team composed of lovely people, who’ve provided me with the support to progress up through the academic ranks.

What made you pursue a career in academic medicine?

My father was my inspiration to pursue a combined medical and research career pathway. He established the Medical Oncology service in Canberra, Australia: when growing up as a child, I was always surrounded by ‘medical speak’ and heard about the advances in therapies in treating cancer patients, as they occurred. Considerable progress has been made in medical science and care since the time I was an undergraduate medical student in Sydney. I’m optimistic that many more breakthroughs in treatment will be made with novel technologies and implementation in our lifetimes. 

Would you like to share any advice to women scientists about the issue of balancing work and family?

It is indeed difficult to balance both, but there are ways of juggling both spheres. This requires good organisational skills, including incorporating help from others (e.g., child caretakers and after-school clubs); good time management; lots of stamina and being prepared to sleep few hours, as you often have to work either very late or very early (!); building good relationships with colleagues; and having a dedicated partner with whom to balance your own personal strengths and weaknesses.



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