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
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!