A brand new month has arrived and the sun is shining here in the UK! And with this new beautiful weather, it is time to introduce to you a new beautiful ‘Scientist in the Spotlight’.
Up until now I’ve featured a lot of scientists from around the world that I have met in the scicomm community across Twitter and Instagram who have inspired me on my science blogging journey and also who’s research and personal journeys I have wanted to know more about and share with you. But for April, I am once again bringing it a bit closer to home and featuring one of my fellow PhD students here at the University of Southampton. Let me introduce to you Jordana G.
Jordana and I started our PhD journeys at the same time but our paths are very different. After studying for her undergraduate degree at the University of Sussex and growing up in a town along the south coast means that she LOVES the beach and was disappointed to find out that Southampton had a dock instead – something that I can completely understand too! Jordana’s research focuses on how we can use monoclonal antibodies to develop stronger and more effective immunotherapies, but when she’s not in the lab she loves spending time with her friends and family, she is ALWAYS smiling and has awesome rapping skills 😛
So, why did you choose to study science?
Jordana: Since the age of 12, science was my favourite subject at school. I found it fascinating and relatively easy – I think maybe I just worked hard because I liked it! And from then it just progressed, it felt natural to carry out a science undergraduate degree because that’s what I found interesting and what I wanted to learn more about, and likewise for my PhD. I wouldn’t say I had an inspiration that led me to science, but more a fascination.
What have you been doing in the lab most recently?
Jordana: I have currently been carrying out a lot of in vivo experiments. Before any treatment can be put into in-human clinical trials, they have to be tested in animal models of disease. This is the stage we are at currently with our antibodies and we are seeing some exciting results showing how we can use our immune systems to tackle harmful cancer cells!
What’s the most memorable moment from your PhD so far?
Jordana: Definitely passing my transfer viva. It was a half way mark that filled me with confidence and enabled me to come up with more ideas and avenues to explore within my project.
What’s the most valuable lesson you have learnt during your PhD?
Jordana: That I am capable. Many times in my PhD I have felt like I’m not good enough to be here and that I’m not capable. However, my transfer viva and the fact that I am approaching my final year in the lab, I have come to realise that I can do anything I put my mind to and I am good at what I do.
Now you’re nearing the end of the PhD journey, what advice would you give to any PhD newbies?
Jordana: Don’t worry so much! This is supposed to be a fun experience. Yes it is hard and there will be times you want to chuck in the towel, but ultimately we should enjoy this time. After all, it is probably the last time we are going to be students!
What are your 2017 goals?
Jordana: Well, I want to enjoy my last full year here in Southampton, to get involved in more science communication projects and to take at least 2 holidays to balance that out 🙂
How do you balance lab life with a social life?
Jordana: I think one thing I have done pretty well throughout this PhD is keep a good work life: social life balance. For me, having a social life is just as important as doing well professionally so I make sure that I make time for both. I have been known to burn a candle at both ends a little too much with my work hard, play harder attitude.
What do you like to get up to when you’re not in the lab then?
Jordana: I love to practice my calligraphy and lettering in my spare time. It’s something I do that relaxes me and takes my mind away from everything else going on. Reading is also a love of mine. Getting lost in a good book is therapy to me! Also, I love hanging out with my friends and sharing a bottle of wine…..or two!
Has your science journey been what you expected?
Jordana: I have come to realise that I never know what to expect because when I plan things out in my head and give myself a timeline, it never, ever goes that way. I’m very fortunate to have had the journey I’ve had so far and I am really excited about what the future holds.
What does the future hold for you? What is your next step post-PhD?
Jordana: I would like to post-doc in industry as my next career move. Ideally, I would love to go abroad to start of with so I’m looking at international biotech and pharma companies and hoping to go with my sister :). The great thing about science is that you can travel all around the world with it and before I settle down somewhere I would like to explore and experience other places.
And finally, where in the world should I visit before I die?
Jordana: There is a family run Italian restaurant tucked down an alleyway in Florence, Italy. I can’t for the life of me remember the name of it, but I cannot even describe how god damn good the food was! Oh, and the wine! We were also served by the friendliest waiter and the atmosphere in the restaurant was just wonderful. I am making myself want to go back instantly just by writing this!
And that’s another wrap! Huge thank you to Jordana for taking time out from a manic lab schedule to get involved in my blog! I need to make more of an effort to showcase some of the amazing guys and girls I work with and am sharing this amazing PhD journey with – so thanks for helping me out girl! We should have a catch up with a bottle of wine….or two again soon 🙂
Follow Jordana’s life in and out of the lab over on Instagram. And please ask any questions in the comments below! Let’s learn about new cancer treatments together!