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Izzy Hampson

PhD student in Biological Sciences at the Babraham Institute and the University of Cambridge

Science works best when we support each other; once you have your foot in the door bring others with you, change the culture, make science a place where everyone is valued.

What do you do?

I am a second year PhD student at the Babraham Institute, where we carry out research into healthy ageing. I spend my time in a biology laboratory where we study cell signalling. This involves trying to figure out the intricate details of how our cells communicate not only with each other, but how messages are passed from the outside to the inside of the cell. I get to carry out lots of cool experiments, work with incredible people and am constantly learning new skills and techniques.

Why did you choose this field?

I had some great biology teachers when I was at school, they challenged me to think critically about scientific concepts and research, which made biology my favourite subject and influenced my decision to study at university. I decided to study biochemistry because I had good grades in both biology and chemistry, and luckily for me it turned out to be the best parts of these two subjects! I was fortunate enough at school to be involved in various kinds of “science clubs” extracurricularly, and was awarded a Nuffield Bursary to spend a summer holiday in a biology lab at 
the University of Loughborough - this was where I really discovered the joy and independence of research, and was my first interaction with “real” scientists.

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

I’m really proud of the times I’ve presented my research to large audiences. I always hated public speaking when I was younger, and I still get nervous now, but there’s something beautiful about sharing your hard work with an interested audience and realising that you are able to answer questions. I think younger me wouldn’t believe I am able to do that.

Why do you love working in STEM?

"It reminds me how exciting it is to be a scientist, and just how amazing the world around us is."

One of my favourite things about being a researcher is sharing my science with lots of different audiences in such creative ways - we recently designed a pop-up escape room to explain our research and are taking it on the road this summer.

Best advice for the next generation

If you enjoy science then there is a whole world of careers 
out there - I am still discovering more possibilities for my future all the time! Seek out inspiring mentors to support you in your science and personal development and lift each other up. Science works best when we support each other; once you have your foot in the door reach out to bring others with you, change the culture, make science a place where everyone is valued and appreciated.

Fun fact

The science communication community on Twitter really inspires me - I love seeing the beautiful fluorescence microscopy images, wonderful discussions around the diversity of scientists, and conversations about how we can strive to create an evermore inclusive environment for everyone.