Marina Parry is currently a Postdoctoral Research Scientist at the CRUK Manchester Institute, Manchester.
She is fascinated by genetics and always up for talking about the subject with friends and even strangers. Here she tells us about her career so far, what motivates her and shares her opinions on today’s scientific culture.
Catch Marina on her Soapbox Saturday 23rd July 2016 in Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester, alongside other talented female scientists who will make the 2016 City of Science proud.
SS: Marina, how did you get to your current position?
MP: Many exams, a few prospective emails, a bit of funding, a thesis, loads of job applications, several interviews and two job offers. More seriously, this is my second postdoc, which I obtained thanks to the experience (and publications) I gained during my first postdoc investigating the genetics of Splenic Marginal Zone Lymphoma (a rare type of blood cancer) at the University of Southampton. This followed a rather arduous job search following my PhD in inherited susceptibility to breast and prostate cancer at the University of Sheffield.
SS: What, or who, inspired you to get a career in science?
MP: For as long as I can remember, the human body and how it works have captivated me. This led me to pursue an undergraduate degree in Molecular Biology, during which time I had several lectures based on a seminal paper entitled ‘The Hallmarks of Cancer’ and I was hooked. I needed to understand more about this devastating but cunning disease.
SS: What is the most fascinating aspect of your research/work?
MP: Knowing I can have an impact on patients, albeit future patients. Also contributing to understanding a disease which is as complicated and as unique as we are, using cutting edge technologies, in order to fight it.
SS: What attracted you to Soapbox Science in the first place?
MP: That it promotes female voices in science. Also the opportunity it presents to talk about my research to random passers by, not just those who have already shown an interest by coming to a Science Museum or to one of our Open Days.
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?
MP: Only one?! That’s tough… I think the expectation/idea that all PhDs want/will become PIs or else that they have failed. I believe we need more scientifically trained people in all sectors. The skills gained during a PhD and during one (or several!) postdocs are transferable to many other jobs: communication, teamwork, driving projects, analyzing data… the list goes on. Train us, even in the knowledge we may not all become Professors but journalists, civil servants, small business owners, consultants, teachers, parents!
SS: What would be your top recommendation to a female PhD student considering pursuing a career in academia?
MP: Do it! But with open eyes. Choose the people you work with/for carefully and enjoy it. I love what I do and feel privileged to have the opportunity to do it everyday.