Hayley Wyatt is a researcher at the School of Mathematics at Cardiff University. Her research interests lie within the field of medical engineering, including the design of surgical devices and the behaviour of biological materials, such as blood vessels or cellular structures. Come & meet Hayley at Soapbox Science Cardiff , where she is going to speak about “Structures within nature and modern engineering application”.
SS: Hayley, how did you get to your current position?
HW: I have never being very good at deciding what to do, and whilst applying to University I considered many courses including Optometry, Pharmacy, and Maths. But none of them really stood out as something I would really enjoy. By chance I came across Medical Engineering, and was instantly interested in what the course was about as I had a keen interest in medical applications. I studied Medical Engineering at Cardiff University for four years, and then went on to complete my PhD within the School of Engineering. I am currently on my second research role, which is working within the School of Mathematics at Cardiff, researching the complex behaviour of cellular structures. After completing my PhD I found it was a matter of making the most of the opportunities I was presented with. My current research position was suggested to me by my PhD supervisor, as it utilised the expertise I had developed over the course of my PhD and was a good opportunity to work in an exciting research area with world leading researchers.
SS: What, or who, inspired you to get a career in science?
HW: There was never one thing or one person that inspired me to get a career in science. I was always good at science and maths when I was at school so it seemed like an obvious choice to go into such a career. Engineering was a good choice to study at university because it meant I got to use all of the science subjects, and be a little bit creative (I always enjoyed art and design subjects). Since then I have really enjoyed the subject, researching different topics, learning how things work, and I have also been fortunate to work with some awesome people, who have made working in science really enjoyable and fun.
SS: What is the most fascinating aspect of your research/work?
HW: It’s exciting to know you are working on something new that nobody else has before. For me this can involve improving the design of a surgical device, working on a novel material for hip implants, or conducting new experiments to investigate the way materials behave. Every project will lead to something new, and contributing to a new finding or innovation is awesome.
SS: What attracted you to Soapbox Science in the first place?
HW: The chance to do something different, and the chance to demonstrate some of the diversity of what you can study or research within science and engineering subjects.
SS: Sum up in one word your expectations for the day – excitement? Fear? Thrill? Anticipation?
SS: If you could change one thing about the scientific culture right now, what would it be?
HW: I would like to change how open people are to collaboration. Some researchers are very keen on collaborating, however others can be protective or secretive of their research, or just generally reluctant to collaborate. A good collaboration can be beneficial for everybody involved, it can present a learning opportunity, a chance to expand into a new research area, and the potential to conduct excellent research benefiting from a range of expertise and experience.
SS: What would be your top recommendation to a female PhD student considering pursuing a career in academia?
HW: My advice would be to network and talk to people as much as possible. Networking at conferences, other events, or even within your own university, opens up the potential for new collaborations or even job opportunities. It also gives you a good support network, so when things don’t quite go to plan, like papers getting rejected, or when you want advice on how best to proceed with your career, there are people to talk to who have been through it. They can offer encouragement, advice, and maybe even a drink at the pub after a long day!