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Catherine Wong

Bioinformatics PhD student, University of Oxford

 

And - President, OxFEST (Oxford Females in Engineering, Science and Technology Society)

What would you do if you weren't afraid?

What do you do?

My daytime work as a DPhil (PhD) student in Bioinformatics at the University of Oxford exposes me to the world of drug discovery. In particular, I look at harnessing a special component of our immune system, antibodies, to hit specific targets underlying various diseases. I am also the President of the Oxford Females in Engineering, Science and Technology society (OxFEST).

Why did you choose this field?

"The fun and exploratory nature of science brings about endless surprises."

From a young age, I participated in various innovation competitions and IT training schemes. In year 9, I was elected into the executive committee of the Science Club, where I had opportunities to design medium-scale scientific demonstrations. The fun and exploratory nature of science adds to my enthusiasm in pursuing a career in scientific research. In particular, the critical and extensive impact that medical research has on patients draws me towards studying biological research in my DPhil.

What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?

"Everyone needs to start somewhere."

In my first year of undergraduate studies, I held myself back from actively seeking potential supervisors to discuss research internship opportunities. I self-selected out from approaching research groups that publish in top journals, in areas that I did not have sufficient knowledge to understand. I mentioned this concern to my personal tutor, who is among the world-class research leaders of his field.

 

He pointed out that everyone needs to start somewhere, and offered to host me briefly for a short research experience. To my surprise, this placement became pivoting in my later career progression into computational research. 

Why do you love working in STEM?

There is always new scientific evidence that challenges existing beliefs and advances our understanding of the world we live in. Working in STEM allows me to ask thought-provoking questions and keeps me thinking more thoroughly about each and every step we take. 

Best advice for the next generation

As Sheryl Sandberg said, “What would you do if you weren't afraid?”

Role model 

I joined a group of enthusiastic female STEM students when I started my study at Oxford. Eventually I became the President of this student body in the year 2018-2019. Get in touch with us: https://ox-fest.org/ !