Break down the feeling of ‘them and us’: Meet Joanne L Godwin

Dr Joanne L Godwin (@joannelgodwin), University of East Anglia, is taking part in Soapbox Science Bristol on Saturday July 15th 2017 where she will give a talk called: “Sex-ual Selection in the City”




SS: How did you get to your current position?

JG: Indirectly! It has been a long and winding journey, and one of my reasons for getting involved in Soapbox Science is to encourage girls and young women to think about a career in science and research.

My undergraduate degree was in biology and from there I went on to train as a science teacher but it wasn’t until I landed myself a job working at a field studies centre, and teaching about the environment, sustainability, geography and biodiversity, that I felt I had found my career. I loved helping children discover an interest in nature and being outdoors but, I reached a point where rather than teaching, I wanted to stretch my own knowledge and understanding so I went back to university to do a Master’s degree in Ecology. It was during my MSc that I met Professor Matt Gage and carried out my dissertation with him investigating environmental impacts on reproduction in insects. After my MSc I went back to environmental education but I had been bitten by the research bug and decided to apply to do a PhD. I got back in touch with Matt and went on to do my PhD as part of his research group studying evolution in populations of flour beetles. I am currently continuing this research as a post-doc.



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

JG: My career in science finally started when I realised that the things I love to do are answer questions and solve problems which wasn’t really until I started my PhD. I always loved science at school and biology in particular because I enjoyed being outside and was fascinated by how complex the natural world was. However, I took me years to realise that I could put these things together and they could be a career. One of the reasons I wanted to be involved in Soapbox Science is to highlight the wide range of science research and the diversity of scientists.



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

JG: Seeing evolution happening! I carry out ‘experimental evolution’ using populations of beetles. By carefully controlling the environment of the beetles but creating a single difference between populations, I can look for changes over generations.



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

JG: I think women are often less likely to promote themselves and/or not recognise their own achievements. I hope by getting involved in Soapbox Science I will encourage other women to be confident in their own knowledge and ability, and celebrate their successes.



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

JG: Inspiring



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

JG: I am concerned with the current feeling that the public don’t trust, or don’t want to listen to ‘experts’. I think it is important to show that experts/scientists are also ‘ordinary’ people and aren’t hiding away doing something secretive. I think it is important to break down the feeling of ‘them and us’.



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

JG: Believe in yourself and your abilities. Don’t compare yourself to other people, just concentrate on your own achievements.





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