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Latest from the Geeky Girl Reality Blog

1. Introduce yourself, who are you what do you do? My name is Nicol Caplin and I am currently a Research Fellow level project scientist in Astrobiology at the European Space Agency. 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 knew that I wanted a science career when I entered university, I just wasn’t sure of the exact area. I picked out studying for a bachelor’s degree in environmental science because it was so broad, there were lots of areas to explore. Eventually I got interested in plant biology and its relationship with environmental radiation, which later formed the subject of my PhD thesis. 3. What about your job makes you jump out of bed in the morning, especially on those cold, dark mornings? I’ve never been a morning person, but with a nice cup of coffee and the promise of catching up with my excellent peers at work, I can get going on what’s really important at the moment and that is carrying out research in space! 4. What is your personal cure for stress or how do you raise your spirits in times of doubt? Can you share a Story? I’m a firm believer that you cannot pour from an empty cup, and self-care is a priority. How can anyone expect you to perform your best if you don’t treat yourself right? Sometimes stressful days at work are unavoidable. As a countermeasure, I always schedule time away from work, usually to ride my horse and leave any stress at the barn door. 5. Who is your role model? If no one, any thoughts on this? I don’t have a single role model. Instead, I am constantly inspired by those around me. Working for ESA means I don’t have to look very far to find exceptional scientists and engineers to engage with. I am also a big fan of using Twitter for finding other inspirational people to connect with! This includes artists and poets. Creativity and science are highly complementary. 6. What advice would you give to yourself if you could go back in time? I would advise myself that everybody starts somewhere and that would have helped some nerves back in the early days where I began presenting my work. Practice over the years has actually turned public speaking into something I actively seek to do. Positive mindset = positive outcome. 7. Top 3 tips for girls starting out in STEM? Everyone has strengths. Take as long as you need to find yours. Don’t compare your rate of progress to anyone else, there’s only one “you” and you are actually the best at being that! Above all, make sure that whatever it is you’re doing, even if it’s a difficult subject, it is one that you enjoy. 8. How do you measure your success? I set micro-goals that are easier to achieve instead of long term harder ones. That way, it’s pretty easy to succeed regularly. 9. Where can we find out more about your work? https://www.esa.int/Science_Exploration/Human_and_Robotic_Exploration/Research/Exobiology 10. Are you social? Will you share your Twitter handle, or LinkedIn profile, or Facebook so that young women can connect with you? You can connect with me @DrCaplin on Twitter.
1. Introduce yourself, who are you what do you do? Hi! My name is Adana Llanos Wilson, although professionally I go by Adana Llanos. I am a molecular and cancer epidemiologist and Assistant Professor at Rutgers School of Public Health. My research focuses on cancers that disproportionately affect minorities and medically underserved populations. The objective of my research program is to understand the molecular and sociobiological mechanisms that cause poorer cancer outcomes among these groups. 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 was always good in math and science and figured that I would ultimately pursue a medical degree to become the first doctor in my family. While I eventually did become the first doctor in my family, I realized along the way that medical school was not the right path for me. As an undergraduate student at Howard University, I majored in biology (and minored in chemistry). After graduating, I applied to medical school unsuccessfully and thought I would take a gap year to study for the MCAT and reapply. During the summer after my graduation, I was offered a fellowship to pursue a PhD and couldn’t pass up the offer. So I applied to the doctoral program in genetics and human genetics, which the fellowship covered, allowing me to pursue my doctoral studies. This led me to my interests in cancer research. During my doctoral program, my advisor, the late Dr. Verle Headings, suggested I reach out to Dr. Peter Shields at the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center at Georgetown. Upon meeting him and discussing my research interests, Dr. Shields invited me to join his lab for my dissertation research. 3. What about your job makes you jump out of bed in the morning, especially on those cold, dark mornings? Knowing that my research might help someone, especially someone that looks like me, is what gets me out of bed every morning. I also really enjoy mentoring and advising students interested in pursuing careers in STEM and/or in biomedical fields. 4. What is your personal cure for stress or how do you raise your spirits in times of doubt? Can you share a Story? My personal cure for stress is meditation, massages, traveling, and talking to my therapist. I think mental health is wealth! I can’t think of one particular story, but there are times when I experience “impostor syndrome” but I keep reminding myself that God has given me a particular set of gifts that require me to work hard and use those gifts to make a difference. I believe that I am able to do that through my research and by mentoring aspiring scientists and public health professionals. I would also add that it is important to always believe in yourself. “No one is you and that is your superpower!” 5. Who is your role model? If no one, any thoughts on this? I have many role models, including my mother and grandmothers, who inspire me to keep working hard even in difficult times. Professionally, my role model is Dr. Lucile Adams-Campbell, who is a world renowned epidemiologist and has been my mentor for over 10 years. Dr. Adams-Campbell was one of my mentors during my postdoctoral fellowship years and is someone whose career I admire. And she truly gives excellent advice. It’s also worth noting, Dr. Adams-Campbell was the first mentor I ever had that is a Black woman. And she is one of a kind! 6. What advice would you give to yourself if you could go back in time? The one thing I would say to a younger me is that you are stronger than you know and your work will speak for itself. 7. Top 3 tips for girls starting out in STEM? Never doubt yourself, your intelligence and talents, or your place in STEM. Find yourself a good mentor that can relate to you on both professional AND personal levels. Keeping working hard and your work will speak for itself. 8. How do you measure your success? My main measure of success is in my ability to set goals and achieve them. Once a goal has been achieved, I work on achieving the next one. 9. Where can we find out more about your work? Here is a link to my current faculty profile: https://sph.rutgers.edu/concentrations/biostatistics-epidemiology/faculty-member.php?id=61231 You can also find me on Twitter, where I try to post updates about my research: @AdanaLlanos 10. Are you social? Will you share your Twitter handle, or LinkedIn profile, or Facebook so that young women can connect with you? Twitter: @AdanaLlanos LinkedIn: Adana Llanos, PhD, MPH
1. Introduce yourself, who are you what do you do? Jillian Wise, PhD. I am a research fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital-Harvard Medical School-The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. I am working on researching the genomics of cancer as it relates to resistance to therapies and immunology. Also, I am a Founding Member of TIME’S UP Healthcare. 2. How did you arrive at this career (or point in your life/work)? Was it always something you knew you wanted to do? My original goal was to be a medical oncologist. However, during my university years, I realized that much of curative research happens in laboratories. After doing a summer internship in a cancer research laboratory, I was hooked! I thrived on intellectual freedom, exploration and the impact on patients. During my first postdoc, I realized that massive data accumulation started to be necessary in research. I had no computer analytics skills. So, I decided to do a second postdoctoral research fellow in computational analytics/bioinformatics. I would never have foreseen myself coding. However, I am in awe and floored by the exploration which is achievable in genomics given the resources gained from the human genome atlas and computer science. 3. What about your job makes you jump out of bed in the morning, especially on those cold, dark mornings? Curiosity. When that fails, I remember the many times someone has thanked me and described how cancer has affected their lives. 4. What is your personal cure for stress or how do you raise your spirits in times of doubt? Can you share a Story? I find exercise is my best stress management. It requires time not thinking about said stressor and the endorphin release is good for my mood. I am also a fan of traveling; it offers multiple perspectives; including how big the world is and that many people are out there trying to succeed at similar goals. 5. Who is your role model? If no one, any thoughts on this? I think I have many role models for different aspects of my life: my career, motherhood, life-style, etc. There is not one person who has all the same challenges as myself and even the best of role models has faced challenges beyond my own. In science, I have many including: Sara Seager, Felipe Samaniego, Ralph Steinman and Resa Lewiss. 6. What advice would you give to yourself if you could go back in time? I do wish, when I was younger, I had learned to take my love of science beyond the enjoyment of the basic school program. There are so many opportunities to make science a hobby or join programs to study it outside of school hours, which I was unaware of. I think I would have had a better perspective of the multiple ways science is integrated and utilized outside the classroom. I believe this would have led to more successful academic applications. 7. Top 3 tips for girls starting out in STEM? Don’t be put off by failure, only of how you deal with it. Try to integrate your favorite subjects into your life outside of school. Go look up all the cool careers involving coding, science, biology, and all of your interests. Try and shadow people...there is so much out there beyond the stereotypical choices! 8. How do you measure your success? My own happiness 9. Where can we find out more about your work? I have a few articles on pubmed, there is also some publically available lectures. 10. Are you social? Will you share your Twitter handle, or LinkedIn profile, or Facebook so that young women can connect with you? Twitter: Jillianmcwise Linkedin: https://linkedin.com/in/jillian-wise-ph-d-95483166/
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