Marina Gardasevic

Doctoral Researcher in Neuroscience, The University of Manchester

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Science needs variety and it could be you!

What do you do?

I am doing my PhD and I look into how light, particularly from screens, affects our brain and the cells in the eye that are involved. I do some work with humans where I show them different lights and do tests but I also do lab work where I analyse the cells in the eye that sense light. I also do a fair amount of programming! The thing I love most about my job is how varied it is!

Why did you choose this field?

I am the first scientist in my family; my parents both did maths and computing before immigrating to England. I had enjoyed science at school and really liked Biology and Chemistry but I had months of not knowing what I wanted to do before I decided to pursue Biology at university. My family were always really supportive and they helped me work towards my goals. I remember writing my entry statement, I discussed an article I had read about how different lights affect the brain differently; I thought it was so cool! I managed to get into university and a couple of years later I was again stuck on what to do next: did I want to go into research? Or something different like finance? To try and work this out in my head I volunteered in a lab over the summer and totally fell in love with lab work. My supervisor was great and he trusted me with my own project and taught me so much. The lab group was wonderfully diverse and I loved the people. I decided I was going into research! I wasn't sure what area I wanted to work in so I did a Masters degree that allowed me to pick two very different projects. I enjoyed them both realised I loved doing research that could be used to help people. When I was searching for PhD projects I found one on understanding the effects of light on the brain and was so excited! I'd never thought I'd be able to research it! After I met the supervisor and learnt that we got on I was sold and so was he! Then it was the interview which I thankfully passed.

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

The balance. That you can do a difficult degree whilst still having a life. I used to think you'd have to sell your life to get a doctorate but I now know that isn't the case. I am able to pursue my PhD whilst training martial arts, tutoring, keeping pets and going to concerts and parties! I work hard for this balance and it is something I am very proud of.

Why do you love working in STEM?

I love the variety! Every day is different. Some days you're in the lab, some you're on your computer analysing data, some you're speaking with experts getting their advice, others you're presenting your work to people who are super interested. It's a variety and I can pick what I do!

Best advice for next generation?

Don't think STEM is just for people who are "super smart". It's the people who are balanced that do well. The people who have good critical thinking but also good people skills. Science needs variety and it could be you!

Inspo quote / fun fact / role model

"What's past is prologue.” - William Shakespeare

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