This month scientists have been setting up new labs, coordinating research, moving continents and more.
Claire Haworth and Oliver Davis, who both work in behavioural and statistical genetics, met whilst they were studying for a PhD at the MRC Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre at King’s College London and “managed to squeeze in getting married between submitting our PhDs and starting fellowships!” After graduating from their PhDs in the summer of 2009, Oliver started a Wellcome Trust funded postdoc in Oxford and Claire, funded by the MRS and ESRC, stayed in London. After her second fellowship Claire moved to the University of Warwick to set up her own lab and Oliver moved to UCL to start his own group in January 2013. After years of long commutes to see each other, both Oliver and Claire will now be working in the same laboratory for the first time since they finished their PhDs. “We are moving to the new MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit (IEU) at the University of Bristol to establish our joint Dynamic Genetics Lab. Oliver will be Associate Professor in Statistical Genetics, and I will be Associate Professor in Behavioural Genetics.” Oliver has already started his position, and Claire will begin in April. the biggest challenge for them is that whilst they are moving and settling into Bristol, they are both still fulfilling promises to UCL and Warwick by “providing the teaching we committed to at the start of the academic year. It’s an understatement to say we’re a little stretched by these commitments at the moment, but we’re looking forward to focusing on our new roles from the summer.”
Meru Sheel was doing pre-clinical, lab-based studies of parasite immunology at the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in Brisbane, Australia, when she got itchy feet. “While my lab-based research was very exciting and challenging, it lacked the big picture scenario that I was after,” she says. This, combined with the long hours spent on failing experiments and the lack of grant funding, meant that she wanted to make a switch. For Sheel, the most challenging part of leaving her position was that she was going to miss the research. “That feeling that maybe I will crack the mechanism of action with this experiment,” she says. Now, Sheel is the senior research officer for Group A Streptococcal diseases at the Telethon Kids Institute in Western Australia, and while she isn’t in the lab doing research, she is “reading and hunting for ideas and technologies that we can use to advance the development of vaccines and improve an old antibiotic to treat the same bug!” The role of a senior research officer involves coordinating research, analysing data and generating ideas and while gaining some management skills. “I have learnt to transfer my skills and now I love what I am doing.”
French scientist Fabien Plisson moved to Australia in 2008 to do a PhD and then work as a research officer at the Insitute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB) at the University of Queensland in Australia, focussing on medicinal chemistry and drug discovery. Due to recent funding cuts in Australia, Plisson’s research group was required to make some people redundant towards the end of last year. Whilst looking for new positions in industry – “I am applying for positions in chemicals/pharmaceutical/healthcare sector every week” – he’s working as a freelancer, working in graphic design and science communication until he finds a more permanent position. He’s also taking the opportunity to learn new skills such as computer science and statistics via Coursera and EdX. “I prefer working on short research projects (these can last from one month to five years) and learn new skills rather than repeating similar work for years.”
Note: Fabien Plisson’s post has been updated on 17.3.15 to reflect his nationality, work history and his definition of short-term projects.
Reyes Babiano spent her childhood and young adult years in Seville, southern Spain. “It was uncommon to leave your city of birth if you can keep on studying and working there,” she says. So that’s what she did. She completed her masters and PhD at the University of Seville in January 2013, having studied ribosome biogenesis in yeast. She also stayed on to do her first postdoc there. “My fellowship ended and it wasn’t an option to continue working in Spain as a postdoc, and I knew I would have no future at all as a scientist if I didn’t work abroad.” Making the decision to leave behind her family and friends wasn’t easy, especially as she didn’t know whether or not she would be coming back. “New beginnings are always hard, but I am enjoying it quite a lot,” she says. In January 2014 Babiano started a postdoc at EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland, where she is investigating telomere biology in human cells. Working as an independent researcher in a laboratory that has enough funding to try modern and expensive methods is part of what she enjoys about her job.
Sofia Fortunato was born in Venezuela, and stayed there until she graduated with an undergraduate degree in ecology from a university in Caracas. She then decided to try a whole new climate and moved to Bergen in Norway in 2005, where she completed an MSc in microbiology, a PhD and a short term psotdoc at the Sars Centre for Marine Molecular Biology. Her postdoc research contract ended in January 2015 so she took the opportunity to find a job elsewhere. With an Australian husband, a move to Oz seemed a likely option (and one she welcomed: “I enjoy living in a tropical climate again!”). She will start a postdoc at the Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef studies (CoralCoe) at James Cook University next month after a short settling in period. “My main goal is to apply all the research areas I have studied previously into an integrative postdoc, some sort of eco-devo project to study the developmental stress response of corals and calcareous sponges associate to the Great Barrier Reef under environmental stress or climate change.”
Congratulations to all of the above, and to everyone else that has started a new job in February 2015!
We’ve put together a Storify capturing all the #ScientistOnTheMove conversations from February 2015. If you’re starting a new science-related job in March 2015, why not let us know? Join the conversation and share your photos with us on Twitter with the tag #ScientistOnTheMove.