Megan Smith

PhD student, University of Liverpool

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STEM careers are tough, but can be some of the most rewarding.

What do you do?

I research Hirschsprung’s Disease, a bowel disorder that presents in newborns. Without surgery, this disease would be fatal. I work to look at using stem cells to create a cell therapy that could be used as an alternative to surgery.

Why did you choose this field?

Growing up I was interested in science and medicine so decided to do a degree in biochemistry as I knew I wouldn’t get the grades to do medicine. I was the first in my family to go to university so the world of academia was scary unknown territory! I never thought I would end up doing a PhD, as even through my undergrad degree, I thought that I would never get the chance! I loved my 3rd year research project so decided to do a research masters where I spent some time working on the project I work with now. I realised I really enjoyed doing research that related directly to human disease, as this is what I find the most interesting!

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

Doing a PhD! During my undergrad degree I didn’t think I’d end up being able to a masters, nevermind a PhD!

Even though I loved science, I’ve always found exams tough so didn’t want to subject myself to years of more exams, and then I found out about MRes courses and really enjoyed my masters!

I’m very grateful that I then had a very supportive supervisor and met wonderful friends who could help me apply for PhD programmes!

Why do you love working in STEM?

I love working in STEM because there is so many different things you could do, and no two days are the same.

STEM careers and research are so important in so many ways and it’s so rewarding to work on something that can make a difference to people’s lives even if indirectly!

STEM can be a competitive world, but there’s also so many people you can meet who will support you and can end up being amazing friends!

Best advice for next generation?

If you are interested in what you do, it’ll make such a difference in your success. STEM careers are tough, but can be some of the most rewarding.

If your field makes you excited, and you get to work in that everyday, what more could you want?!

Inspo quote / fun fact / role model

“Science and everyday life cannot and should not be separated.” - Rosalind Franklin

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