“I started a long-term project aiming to provide an alternative nanotherapy-mediated vaccination strategy for malaria.”
After finishing my studies in nanosciences, I decided to take on the challenge of a cross-field PhD at the University of Basel and the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Switzerland. Ever since, my research focus has been to use nanotechnology for the diagnosis and treatment of infectious diseases, mainly malaria.
Malaria is a devastating infectious disease that is transmitted by mosquitoes. It is responsible for the death of about half a million children every year. The current COVID-19 pandemic, among other factors, has led to a stagnation of the anti-malarial fight, which highlights the urgent need for innovations distinctively different to our current solutions.
“I have always had great admiration for women in STEM careers and now I am in that position myself”
My first dream job was to be a vet – this was quickly vetoed after my sister told me where my hands would end up! After I finished my A-Levels, I spent some time working in retail as a visual merchandiser and then working in the food industry helping to develop new food-to-go products. After realising that I wasn’t enjoying my job, I left in search of a science-based role.
Apprenticeships have always appealed to me because I like the hybrid approach of learning and working. Before I came across this apprenticeship, I didn’t think it was possible for me to access a role like this without a degree.
As an apprentice bioengineering technician, my role is varied, and every day is different. I am constantly learning new things and putting them into practice.
“Being able to work in the lab on important environmental health issues, surrounded by amazing brains who are genuinely nice people, is a privilege.”
I wouldn’t say my career journey was entirely conventional. Academic, yes, but I skipped an MSc and went straight from PhD to my first fellowship. These were considerable achievements, but establishing both my independence and my own research niche so early on was challenging. I also weaved through disciplines, from marine biology to ecotoxicology to physical and analytical chemistry, to exposure and air pollution science and back to toxicology. These have given me a solid, holistic understanding of the research I do. Now I’m a lecturer and lead a research team and I can’t wait to watch them flourish and make discoveries in the emerging field of microplastics and health.
Over the last few months, I’ve presented remotely to a group of European consortia, and to College students on the other side of the world. The students were on a programme at the University of Akron, and as part of one of their modules, I was invited to give a lecture.
I also presented in-person to science enthusiasts at the New Scientist Festival in Manchester, and to toxicologists in San Diego at the Society of Toxicology annual meeting, my first international conference off UK soil in two years. (more…)