Samantha Furfari graduated with a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Chemistry and Human Physiology, from the University of Adelaide in 2007 before completing an Honours degree in Chemical Sciences from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in 2008. At the same institute, Sam completed her PhD in Chemistry in 2014. She then went onto a postdoctoral research associate position at UNSW working in the area of nitrogen fixation. In 2016 Sam moved to the University of Sussex to work as a Research Fellow working on the development of transition metal complexes and will be talking about her work at Soapbox Science Brighton on July 29th with a talk called:“Coordination Chemistry: What is it and what can it be used for?” Our thanks go to the Royal Society of Chemistry Downland Section for sponsoring Sam and the Brighton event.
SS: What is the most fascinating aspect of your research/work?
SF: Developing new metal complexes and investigating their potential for either catalysis or for new materials.
SS: What, or who, inspired you to get a career in science?
SF: I had a fantastic chemistry teacher in my final year of school and I initially was pursuing a combined double degree in Education and Science for my undergraduate studies but enjoyed the research side of my degree so much that I ended up doing that.
SS: Research in STEMM is becoming increasingly multi-disciplinary. Which STEMM (science, tech, engineering, maths, medicine) subjects do you use in your work? In particular, how does maths play a role in your research?
SF: Science (particularly chemistry) and maths are the subjects that I use the most in my research. Maths is important for me as I use it to calculate out the amount of various reagents that I need.
SS: What attracted you to Soapbox Science in the first place?
SF: I was attracted to apply for Soapbox Science as a way to help improve my scientific communication skills and talk to a general audience about what I do and how organometallic chemistry is a useful area of research.
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?
SF: Publish or perish. I dislike that we are losing some talented individuals because they aren’t publishing frequently enough to get up on the next rung of the ladder. There needs to be a change on how much we value a ‘track’ record as a measure of the success of an individual.
SS: What would be your top recommendation to a female PhD student considering pursuing a career in academia?
SF: It is a hard slog but take advantage of mentoring programs and network opportunities early. Don’t be afraid to get out and talk to others in your field. You never know what a conversation can lead to.
SS: What words of encouragement would you give to children who might be interested in a career in science?
SF: Stay curious and science is much more diverse than that ‘mad’ scientist stereotype. You would be surprised how many different avenues you can take as a scientist.