We recognize science can seem difficult to young scientists, and we hope to raise awareness about people who make it fun and accessible to broader audiences through social media, #SciComm!
This week, Taz from @biochemistry.ig joins us to share how graduate life is like from her point of view and how she went from pursuing medical school to studying vaccines for Lyssaviruses.
Read on about her milestones and her advice on how to deal with setbacks in research, her thoughts on making time for science communication, and more!
You mention that you study Lyssaviruses and you are working on finding a vaccine that can be used against all Lyssaviruses. Tell us a bit about yourself and how you came to be where you are today!
I’m 24 years old and have currently been studying my PhD for 2 and a half years.
Before my PhD I went to Sussex University and studied biomedical science as a result of being a medicine reject! Things happen for a reason though and whilst I was bummed I didn’t get into medicine initially, I’m glad my life panned our the way it did. 👍
At Alevel I did maths, biology, chemistry and geography! School seems like such a long time ago now!!
I think 6 months ago if you asked me how I got to where I am today, I would have said “Out of sheer luck! Things happened at the right time” but now...
"I’ve come to realise that my hard work at school and university meant that opportunities now present themselves more easily!" 💪
I’ve also grown to be more confident and really grab the bull by the horns so tend to take every opportunity that comes my way!
Through your instagram channel, @biochemistry.ig, you share fun tidbits of biochemistry/cell biology and glimpses into how everyday practical labwork is like.
Life as a researcher is so busy - tell us a little bit about why you decided it was important to set aside time to share your lab life?
I’ve always loved a bit of social media, ask any of my friends!
This account initially came about because some of my close friends would ask about my PhD and what I’m doing. It would always be really hard to explain so I set up the account for my friends and family to follow rather than having to explain every time I saw them!
Now the platform has grown, I’ve found other like-minded scientists from which I can learn new things too! 🤗
This COVID-19 pandemic is bringing to light how much scientific distrust and misinformation is out there!
As a science communicator, what are your thoughts on this and what can scientists and other science communicators do to help fight the “infodemic”? ⚔️
I think there are always people who will distrust science, no matter how well you convey it however, I do think there are things us scientists can do and are in fact doing.
As we all know, the media can blow things out of proportion and can exaggerate the truth. Luckily I think people are really starting to notice this as well. 🤔
"As science communicators, the best thing we can do is communicate science in a way that’s interesting but also in lay terms so everyone can understand."
I think there is a lack of science communication from researchers themselves so I would always encourage my peers to do the same as me!
You mentioned in your post that you are back in the lab, doing research for COVID-19! That’s awesome – Stay Safe! – but great news! Can you share hints about what you’ve been up to?
As it is hush hush, the only thing I can really disclose is that I am developing a diagnostic test that doesn’t involve having to handle live coronavirus, so is much safer for the scientists performing the tests! ✔️
Life as a researcher is full of highs and lows and we have to be able to handle both!
What is one challenge you’re facing right now and one milestone you’re proud of? Do you have any advice for how to deal with setbacks in research?
One challenge I’m facing right now is coronavirus! 🔆
My PhD has been put on hold and I’m either working on this new project or having to write my thesis. This is a big change for me as my day to day life was labs labs and more labs! Now I have to sit in front of a computer all day and write words after words 📝. I’m definitely still adjusting to this change!
A milestone I’m proud of is generating enough data to be taken to an international consortium meeting where I presented my data to a Rabies study group in the Netherlands. It really made me feel valued within the lyssavirus field and I met some amazing scientists!✨
"In terms of setbacks in research, I think understanding it happens to everyone is really important and then in order to get back on track, set yourself small goals as it will make you feel more productive."
What is one thing that you learned so far about life as a PhD that you wished you had known before you started?
Something I wish I’d known was that there’s a huge opinion out there that a PhD is this big and scary thing that only few people will be capable of achieving. This prospect made it seem so daunting initially but I’ve come to realise it isn’t as bad as everyone makes out. The idea of doing a PhD is much worse than actually doing it! 👩🔬
What are your favorite and least favorite lab assays/techniques?
My favourite technique so far is virus rescue.
This involves creating your own recombinant virus via cloning and then transfecting that DNA into cells. The cells should then generate your virus, if you’ve made a viable virus!
My least favourite are maxipreps! I think this is just because I get rubbish DNA yields whenever I do them 😭
You know you’re a scientist when…
When you use the word aliquotting when cooking or doing daily tasks. 😂
Aside from “Sciencing”, do you have any other hidden talents or hobbies?
I love socialising and I used to be a competitive swimmer so am also a swimming coach now! 🏊
What’s your favorite thing to do after a long day in the lab?
Eat! I love fooood! 😍
What are some #SciComm channels that you enjoy?