Postdoctoral Fellow in Science
What inspired you to enter and pursue this field?
I fell in love with Science because of Dolly the sheep. I remember my teacher asking for news on scientific advancements, and I got this newspaper cut talking about cloning and how Dolly was generated. It was enough for me to abandon my plans of becoming a lawyer...I remember saying to myself "I want to do this for a living!", and so I did!
How did you come to be in this position?
I got my most recent position because of an amazing group of women who believed in me. Even before I went to university, I knew I wanted to become a professor, and that the path would be long but that I was going to succeed. After I graduated with a Bachelors and a Teaching degree in Biology in 2010, I pursued a Masters in Genetics working with antibiotic resistant microbes and new drug development. In the meantime I got a Bachelors in Political Sciences, as I wanted to know more about the policies involving drug regulation. I took a year off to reevaluate my career choices, and to see if pursuing a PhD would be a long term commitment I would like to take. I started my PhD in Chemistry in 2014, investigating new drugs from environmental samples using genome mining and bioinformatics. During this time I lost two people to antibiotic resistant bacterial infections, which showed me that new drug development is an urgent issue. It also made me proud of contributing to the area. To pursue my dream of becoming a professor, I started a postdoctoral fellowship studying immunotherapies for ovarian cancer and disease tracking strategies using MRI. Later I moved to my current position, a fellowship investigating how yeast can be improved for biofuel and metabolites production. I truly believe in becoming a professor, and keep fueling my and other people's passion for knowledge and how to make this world a safe and sustainable place for everyone.
What advice would you give young women looking to enter your current line of work?
I would say to all women: persist. Insist. It is not easy and we have many obstacles that sometimes get combined with other aspects of who we are, but if we give up we would never have enough people in the system who are singular and will contribute to a plural community. Science needs different voices, and we have to stand up for the challenge to become these voices.
Contact Jessica via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org