It is our responsibility as scientists to tear down barriers: Meet Leila Moura

Dr Leila Moura is a Research Fellow at Queen’s University Belfast. You can catch her on her soapbox in Belfast on Saturday 24th June where she will give a talk called: “From clouds to crystals: finding the balance”





SS: How did you get to your current position?

LM: Networking, hard work and some amount of luck! I really wanted to work with the current PI in my project. He was part of the jury in my viva (not accidental!). After the viva, I went to talk to him and asked him if I could work with him. We applied for a Marie Skłodowska‑Curie Individual Fellowship with a project called HyLITE (Hydrophobic Ionic Liquid Technologies). Ionic liquids and physical-chemistry are two of my passions so I felt right at home!


SS: What, or who, inspired you to get a career in science?

LM: My mother says that I was born a scientist. She says that from a very young age I tried to explain things around me in a methodical and rational way. I also disassembled and assembled (more or less successfully) the VHS player more than once (among other things). My family thought that I would be either a chef or a chemist because of the amount of experiments I did in the kitchen, including in the family’s restaurant, as proven in the photo. They were right, I still do both today. So, I think what inspired me to follow a career in science was mainly curiosity!


SS: What is the most fascinating aspect of your research/work?

LM: Learning new things every day. A new technique, a new method, a new compound, something that someone else learned from their work… whatever it is, it is a new challenge and a new opportunity and I find that very exciting!


SS: What attracted you to Soapbox Science in the first place?

LM: Two things. The opportunity to bring science to the public and the opportunity to show to both boys and girls that science is for everyone! When I was younger I felt that women did not get as much recognition or representation in science in the eyes of the public. I feel that this view is slowly changing and I hope that my participation in Soapbox Science can be a positive contribution towards this change.


SS: Sum up in one word your expectations for the day

LM: Excitement!


SS: If you could change one thing about the scientific culture right now, what would it be?

LM: Whenever I talk to a member of the public about what I do, I get the feeling that there is still a barrier between scientists and the public. There are several factors that contribute to this but I think that science IS for everyone and it is our responsibility as scientists to help tear down this barrier.


SS: What would be your top recommendation to a woman studying for a PhD and considering pursuing a career in academia?

LM: Follow your heart, follow your passion and believe in yourself. If this is what you want then don’t let anything stop you!

This entry was posted in 2017 speakers blog. Bookmark the permalink.