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#STEMStories: Dr. Chloe, Project Manager, Canada

1. Introduce yourself, who are you what do you do?

My name is Dr. Chloe Robinson and I’m currently the project manager and postdoctoral fellow for the STREAM project, based at the University of Guelph in Canada. My work is a fantastic combination of science communication and DNA metabarcoding research.

2. How did you arrive at this career (or point in your life/work)? Was it always something you knew you wanted to do?

I have always known that I wanted to work with animals and nature but I was never sure exactly what. I took a broad undergraduate degree (BSc Zoology) and an equally broad masters (MSc Environmental Biology) so I didn’t limit myself as to what I could go on to pursue as my career. I happened to give population genetics a try for my masters thesis and totally fell in love with DNA-based research.

3. What about your job makes you jump out of bed in the morning, especially on those cold, dark mornings?

My true, non-cliché answer to this is… everything! I utterly love my job - the combination of working with the general public to collect data (in my case samples from a river), writing blogs for multiple platforms including the Methods in Ecology and Evolution journal and getting into the nitty gritty of DNA data analyses makes each and every day different and interesting. Ultimately, I love the variability of my job.

4. What is your personal cure for stress or how do you raise your spirits in times of doubt? Can you share a Story?

So, during my PhD, I had a really rough time with anxiety, depression and imposter syndrome. Through this stressful, difficult time, I learnt how important it was to schedule in some time every day to do something I love (that isn’t work), to give a healthy outlet to that stress and doubt. This is when I decided to take up zumba and even now as a postdoc I am still doing zumba nearly every evening of the week - many a bad day has been danced out using zumba!

5. Who is your role model? If no one, any thoughts on this?

Hands down my role model has always been Dr. Ingrid Visser. As a pre-teen, I discovered Ingrid through my obsession with killer whales (orca) and she has truly been a huge inspiration to me. Her dedication, hard work and passion in the face of adversity inspired me and also seeing a woman conducting groundbreaking research in a field dominated by men was what encouraged me to pursue my dreams of working in ecology.

6. What advice would you give to yourself if you could go back in time?

The main piece of advice I would give my younger self would be to take a break - I most definitely burnt myself out towards the end of secondary school and during my PhD and didn’t have very much focus on looking after myself. I would say that careers in science (and yes, your career starts even in school) are a marathon not a sprint, and to go the distance you need to pace yourself and that means taking care of your mind and body.

7. Top 3 tips for girls starting out in STEM?

  1. Find yourself a role model; research them, read their papers/work and contact them if you can.
  2. Set yourself small, achievable goals along the way of where you want to end up; this will help motivate you and help stave off any imposter syndrome.
  3. Do what you love and if in doubt stay broad; finding what sets your soul on fire doesn’t happen overnight, so along the way keep your choices relatively broad so you can experience different concepts along the way.

8. How do you measure your success?

As a postdoc, I should answer this question with ‘the number of papers I publish’, however personally I measure my success as how many people I can reach and positively impact with my research/results/science communication. I feel that successfully communicating complex scientific concepts to the public is so important for understanding and trust between researchers and communities.

9. Where can we find out more about your work?

You can read more of my work on my personal website www.batacea.com and at the STREAM website www.STREAM-DNA.com.

10. Are you social? Will you share your Twitter handle, or LinkedIn profile, or Facebook so that young women can connect with you?

Yes indeed. My twitter is @cvrobinson92 and LinkedIn profile is https://www.linkedin.com/in/chloe-robinson-phd-151879b7