Don’t Give Up!: Meet Yee Lian Chew

Yee Lian Chew (@WormyChew), University of Wollongong, will be taking part in Soapbox Science Sydney on 10th August with the talk: “What can worms teach us about the brain?”



Soapbox Science: How did you get to your current position?

I got tired of being in a long-distance relationship with my partner living in Australia and me living in the UK, so I applied desperately for jobs everywhere in Australia until I found this one! (We had a ‘deal’ that I would move to the UK for 3 years-ish and then I would return.) It was a great opportunity to back-fill as a teaching/research academic for a senior faculty member currently on a research fellowship.


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

I have always asked questions about everything, and to avoid having to constantly answer them, my parents bought me lots of books about all aspects of science that I devoured from a very young age. The fascination has never stopped!


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

The brain is a remarkable organ and although we know a lot about it, we are still quite a long way away from really understanding how it ‘works’. Every day in my job, trying to get a bit closer to this goal by looking at how individual brain cells ‘talk’ to each other, is exciting and new.


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

I love spreading excitement for science with people. I have realized that over the years, the events that I have been to (Science festivals, school science clubs, public lectures) were attended by people who were already motivated to learn about science. I applied for Soapbox Science because I wanted to talk about research with people who might not necessarily be looking to hear about it, and to see if maybe they could also start to share my excitement.


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



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

Diversity. Diversity of background/experiences/culture makes better research!


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

Don’t give up!

However… there are a lot of reasons to give up – and many of these are extremely valid. Academia is a constant struggle! I think if it makes you happy, do your best to stick with it, and if it doesn’t – then maybe think about other potential opportunities that would make you happy J




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