I’ve always had a keen interest in human biology, even from a very young age I wanted to be a scientist ‘one day’. Growing up I was surrounded by biology text books as my mother bravely went back to university at the age of 37 to complete a BSc in Occupational Therapy, despite having two troublesome teenage girls to contend with at home! This drive to pursue the career she always wanted was inspirational, and together with my father’s unwavering dedication to always work hard, gave me the motivation to pursue my interests in science. I went onto study the sciences at A-level which fuelled my fascination with the intricate workings of the human body. However, during this time I was diagnosed with dyslexia and told not to pursue a career in science as it would be too challenging. Now, I am a very determined individual who thrives on being challenged so I chose to ignore this advice, and commenced a 4yr degree in Human Biology and was awarded a First Class BSc Hons in 2003. Soon after, I started a PhD at the University of Leeds investigating the mechanisms of blood clot formation, with the aim of identifying potential target interactions for the development of novel therapeutics to prevent thrombosis. By the end of my PhD in 2009 I decided I wanted to pursue a career in academic research as a biochemist, and so continued with a post-doctoral research fellow position here in Leeds.
The work/life balance came to the forefront throughout my second post-doctoral position, during which time I had a baby boy followed by 9 months maternity leave. Unfortunately my little boy had severe colic, several food allergies, and a weak immune system which now requires regular hospital appointments. My line managers have been very supportive of the situation and have enabled me to work under the flexible working conditions provided by the university. This flexibility enables me to take my son to his appointments whilst continuing to develop my career as a University Academic Fellow. Maintaining the work/life balance and pursuing your career aspirations is an ongoing challenge we all face, but if you want something hard enough, you can find a way to make it work.