I am a final year PhD student at University College London. Through my research I am addressing questions about the evolutionary processes underpinning the extraordinary differences between males and females that we frequently observe in nature.
You can catch Iulia on her soapbox as part of Soapbox Science London on 26th may where she will be giving a talk: “The genetics of the sexes: How males and females evolve to be different”
SS: How did you get to your current position?
ID: I have always been fascinated by the animal world so I completed my undergraduate degree in Zoology at The University of Manchester. There, I became very interested in evolutionary biology, more specifically in the evolution of mating systems and mate choice and in evolutionary conflicts of interest between males and females. In my final undergraduate year, I decided I really wanted to pursue a career in academia. I was then very fortunate to obtain a PhD research studentship at University College London where I am now able to further explore these areas of evolutionary biology.
SS: What, or who, inspired you to get a career in science?
ID: I think I was attracted to science studies in general from early school years and I owe this to some very inspiring science teachers that I have had along the way. I also used to watch a lot of documentaries which have increased my curiosity about science, biology in particular. Later on, my undergraduate supervisor provided me with valuable advice about what to expect from an academic career.
SS: What is the most fascinating aspect of your research/work?
ID: I am constantly amazed by the incredible differences in shape, function and behavior that we see between males and females of the same species. Having the chance to contribute through my research to our understanding of the evolutionary causes and mechanisms behind this diversity is in itself fascinating to me.
SS: What attracted you to Soapbox Science in the first place?
ID: Having the chance to share my passion for science with the public, and who knows maybe even with some young scientists in the making, is definitely one of the main aspects of Soapbox Science that attracted me. I also think this is a great opportunity to get out of my comfort zone as Soapbox Science provides an opportunity to discuss science in a different way than what I am used to.
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?
ID: I would change the instability that short-term research contracts and highly competitive funding schemes could bring, especially at early career stages.
SS: What would be your top recommendation to a PhD student considering pursuing a career in academia?
ID: Make sure you find an area of research that you are really excited about, persevere in everything you do and most importantly be confident in your abilities even if at times things may seem overwhelming.