Scientist in the Spotlight. Georgia A-S.

The arrival of September on Soph talks science means it is time for the return of my month long feature; Spotlight September!

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One thing that I aim to do with my blog is show that ‘being a scientist is not just one thing’. I want to showcase scientists from around the world to break the stereotype that is associated with being a scientist. I want to show that having a career in science is much more than just sitting in a lab doing experiments 24/7 and then scientists all have a variety of different interests, goals and ambitions. The monthly feature that I have on my blog called Scientist in the Spotlight became a monthly special for the first time last year to celebrate scientists and engineers who are inspiring role models for everyone, but also was a way for me to catch up with the scientists I had interviewed previously and see where they are now too! After the success of Spotlight September last year, I wanted to bring it back and spend another month on Soph talks science dedicated to sharing the stories of some incredible scientists from all corners of the globe, even though I still cannot believe that it has been a whole year since the first Spotlight September.

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But, without further ado, let’s get Spotlight September started and introduce you to my first Spotlight Scientist; the amazing Georgia A-S.

I’ve been following Georgia on Instagram for a little while now and just love everything that she shares especially as you feel that you are getting to know her more and more with each honest post. But recently she has been celebrating as she has just submitted her PhD thesis at the La Trobe Institute for Molecular Science down under in Melbourne, Australia! Her research aimed to understand how the billions of cells that die every day in the human body break down and get removed, and how this contributes to infectious disease. But outside of being a hard working and ambitious scientist in the lab, this country girl loves to party too! So, let’s get to know Georgia a little bit more!

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Let’s start at the beginning. What is your earliest memory of science?

Georgia: Learning about the planets in primary school science class and thinking ‘wow this is so cool and there is so much to learn!’

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What then made you decide to choose to pursue science?

Georgia: I come from a very science-loving family. Both of my parents did science degrees at La Trobe University and growing up my mum was a science teacher at my High School. This has probably been one of the main reasons I have such a passion for science.

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Tell us a little bit more about your PhD research and PhD life.

Georgia: I have completed all of my studies at La Trobe University. I first did my undergrad degree in a Bachelor of Biotechnology and Cell Biology, and then completed my honours in Biochemistry. Next, I stuck around with the same research group (Dr Ivan Poon and Dr Mark Hulett) to do my PhD. My PhD project was aimed to look at how and why apoptotic monocytes generate extracellular vesicles called apoptotic bodies during homeostasis and influenza infection. But I have been out of the lab for the past month or so as I was finishing and submitting my thesis!

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So, now you’ve submitted and are almost done with the PhD, what advice would you give to someone starting this journey?

Georgia: Be prepared for the ups and downs. Every single student goes through good and bad patches. You get good results and then you get two months of bad results, and this is completely normal! Just use those good patches for motivation to keep on pushing! The most valuable lesson I learnt was that we all make mistakes and this is okay – just make sure you learn from them!

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Outside of the lab, what do you like to get up to?

Georgia: I love the outdoors. Walking, running, going on the annual family fishing trip, camping etc. Also partying with my girlfriends πŸ™‚

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How do you manage to balance lab life with a social life?

Georgia: One of my best qualities is probably my organisation and time management. Therefore, I always make sure I work hard and plan everything in advance so tasks can be completed and allow me to have my lab-free life! Prioritising and planning is key!

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Why did you start your Instagram features and get involved in scicomm?

Georgia: Many reasons and this has changed during my scicomm journey. Initially, it was important to show a non-science audience what a life is science is all about and how great it can be! However, now I really value my scicomm platform to relate with other scientists and share common experiences, challenges and successes together!

I also really love public speaking! So I have done lots of talks, presentations to students, radio interviews etc. Always looking for more opportunities too!

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Has your science journey been what you expected?

Georgia: No! Completely unexpected! I have had sooooo many amazing experiences, fun times, learnt so much and met so many incredible people. I could have never imagined that a PhD would be this great! And still working on what is the right next step for me too but I would love to stay in research.

Georgia Atkin-Smith 2

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And finally, where in the world should I be visiting next?

Georgia: The Northern Territory of Australia! Everyone, and especially all Australians MUST have an outback adventure in the NT. It is such a beautiful and unique place!

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Huge thank you to Georgia for answering my question even though you’ve been super busy with your thesis and then celebrating πŸ™‚ Please make sure you follow Georgia on Instagram for tips and advice on a science PhD and career and much much more.

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And where are they now?

And now its time for me to catch up with one of our scientist’s from Spotlight September 2017. Let’s see what the wonderful Amber R has been up to since her feature. Check out Amber’s Scientist in the Spotlight interview is you want to learn more about where her journey started and how you can follow her on social media.

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S P O T L I G H T S E P T E M B E R 2018 has officially started, and I am very excited to bring you more stories from scientists across the world. Make sure to check back in every Monday and Friday in September to meet another scientist and learn about their story. Did you enjoy this story today? Is there anyone you would love to see featured on my Scientist in the Spotlight features over the next year?

Science love.

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