Scientist in the Spotlight. Class of ’17.


It’s the last blog post of SPOTLIGHT SEPTEMBER!

I have loved bringing you the stories and journeys of new exciting scientists and sharing just how varied and unique they all are. And I hope you have enjoyed it too! But for this final post – I’m going to catch up with my Scientist in the Spotlight Class of 2017 to ask the question:

Where are they now?


If you have been following me on social media this month then some of this might be quite familiar to you but I thought I would make it into a blog post to wrap up Spotlight September to pull it all together AND in case you missed any of their catch ups, then its all here for you! So, let’s get stuck in and induct the 10 members of the Class of 2017 at their Spotlight Reunion.


Jess T – Way back in October 2016 when I started this whole adventure I was inspired by Jess and her blog and so she became my first ever Scientist in the Spotlight!

Jess has recently defended her thesis, so in fact I should be calling her Dr Jess T! Congrats gal! Jess has no plans to hang up her lab coat just yet as she is going to continue her research as a postdoc for a few months, and then hopefully move into an industry research position in the future!


Sophie P – It has been an eventful year for my second Scientist in the Spotlight Sophie – she has submitted her thesis, gone on her post-PhD french roadtrip, got engaged, moved in with her fiancee, defended her thesis – so again I should be saying Dr Sophie P – and hung up her lab coat for good and started her dream career in MedComms – which you will here more about in an upcoming blog post!

Sophie has bagged her dream job that is taking her all around the world and mixing her love for science without being in the lab! It is safe to say that she is loving post-PhD life!


Lisa J – Lisa was my last Scientist in the Spotlight of 2016 and since then as wrapped up everything in the lab and started writing her thesis. She has also got a science comms internship, worked as a publicist for Pint of Science with me, her blog is doing amazingly well and recently signed up to do some science comedy – more on that event to come in a new blog post, so watch this space!

Like Sophie, Lisa has realised that working in a lab just isn’t for her but has fallen in love with science communication. She still loves science but rather than sharing her recent findings with her lab group, she wants to share and talk about science with a bigger audience.


Karen R – Karen has recently celebrated her 2 year anniversary working at CIRM and although she is a scientist that doesn’t work in a lab, she still loves her job away from the pipettes and the experiments!

Since her Scientist in the Spotlight feature in January, she has seen another group of high school students graduate from CIRM’s SPARK lab researching stem cells, become President of UCSF Alumni Association where she did her PhD AND Chair of the San Francisco women and bio networking organisation while also helping CIRM to fund even more trials for cancer and a host of blood disorders. Plus she is getting married next month! So if you need some advice and you’re in San Francisco then Karen is your woman!


Catia B – My wonderful friend Catia has now been in the US for 6 months studying for her PhD. Her Scientist in the Spotlight feature was coupled with a guest post about incorporating more travel into your PhD schedule. So, it might not be a surprise to you to see that Catia has been exploring more and more of the US in this time and has recently traveled the iconic Route 66.

Catia realised she was close to burn out from working constantly on her PhD and took the break away from lab to explore the amazing places around the US. In the lab though, she has been running many simulations, meeting with stakeholders in the stem cell therapy field, presenting at conferences and writing her first paper.


Ben M – The scientist who is also an Olympian! Naturally, in Ben’s Spotlight feature I quizzed him about Rio 2016 and how he balanced his PhD work with hockey training. But since then he has switched from player to supporter of the Red Caribou, aka the Canadian Men’s Field Hockey team. Ben supports them on Twitter while they are on tour by tweeting fun facts about the team but also by watching them play some fantastic hockey whilst qualifying for the World Cup recently.

On the lab side of things, Ben has been wrapping up a few projects and finishing his thesis. He has submitted one research paper but has the postdoc hunt looming on the horizon. After splitting himself between the lab bench and hockey training for so many years, Ben has loved being able to just focus on his research!


Jordana G – Jordana like me has now entered the final year of PhD life, so has spent the last few months getting organised. She has been planning the last few experiments she needs for her thesis and writing a paper so she has been busy in the lab and at the computer. She told me that she is enjoying being busy though and with having that end goal in sight it is keeping her motivated.

Jordana works on cancer immunotherapy which she revealed more about in her Scientist in the Spotlight feature. But as well as doing the research, she has also been fundraising for Cancer Research UK by doing the Pretty Muddy event.


Sasha W – Time to catch up with my gal Sasha who has just got back from sunning herself and taking a well earned break in Croatia – which was where she recommended us to go in her Scientist in the Spotlight feature and shes been back again so it must be good!

Sasha is one of my scicomm girl crushes so I’ve continued to follow her science journey which over the last few months has involved doing more talks, more research on her bacteriophage and more volunteering where she did the Soapbox Science event in Toronto again this past weekend! But now she is feeling refreshed after her break, she is hoping to get back to lab work and wrap up all she needs for her PhD in the next year!


Alex D – The YouTube star who is bringing science to the masses, who again I am a HUGE fan of! Alex’s Scientist in the Spotlight interview was only 2 months ago so her life of the past two months has been a mix of being in the lab but completely tied to her laptop writing a review for her lab and generating enough data for her own upcoming paper.

The YouTube front has been a bit quiet for her recently because of the lab work but Alex is working on some behind the scenes to share with us all soon, so stay tuned for that!


Emma O – Emma was only my Scientist in the Spotlight in August 2017 so she hasn’t really had much chance to change things much but my goodness has she been busy and up to SO much in that time and has some exciting news!

Emma was at the Science Museum as part of their late events where the theme was obviously space and gravitational waves! She has been to several conferences in September. One was in Manchester celebrating 50 years of pulsars and she got to meet the lady who discovered them – Jocelyn Bell Burnell. She also joined the LIGO scientific collaboration which is keeping her super busy with international collaboration and science outreach events! But hopefully in the near future you will see that collaboration between Emma and I too šŸ™‚


That’s a wrap! This marks the end of SPOTLIGHT SEPTEMBER! I hope you have all enjoyed by first ever monthly special on the blog – I would really appreciate any feedback you have about it! A massive thank you to all the scientists from the Class of 2017 and the Spotlight Class of 2017 for getting involved in my blog and taking the time to answer all my questions! Hopefully it has shown people from all backgrounds and of all ages that being a scientist is not just one thing and there is so much variety in careers and interests! And I hope you have found it interesting to see where the Class of 2017 are now and how a scientist in their career progresses!


I hope I can continue to bring different scientist’s stories to you each month – although I might give you a month off in October šŸ˜› – with the hope of inspiring as many people as possible. And because I aim to reach as many people as possible, I’m going to make the leap and try my hand at making science zines about stem cells and also my Scientist in the Spotlights! So stay tuned for Issue 1 of the Soph talks science zines too! They will be made available to everyone in print or download so you can keep the stories of these real life scientists in your bag wherever you go! I also think they will be a great resource for teachers or science educators to show stories of real life scientists alongside the more well known figures in the textbooks to show what a scientist really looks like!


Normal service on Soph talks science will resume on Monday, but thank you all for your continued support of all my different blog features and of my scicomm adventure!

Science love.


Keep up to date on my life as a scientist and my science communication efforts with Soph talks Science on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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