What do you do?
I am developing nanoscale delivery platforms for macromolecular therapeutics such as CRISPR-Cas9.
Why did you choose this field?
There is nothing more critical to self-discovery than being daring and trying new things. I was looking for a summer internship in cancer research after my penultimate year at the University of Cambridge, where I was reading Natural Sciences. Why cancer? Well, perhaps because everyone in biomedical sciences which I knew at the time was focusing on that in one way or another. Long story short, I got a scholarship at Spanish National Cancer Research Center in Madrid ... and turned it down to pursue a summer placement in nanomedicine at Tel Aviv University in Israel with Prof Dan Peer instead. I was both keen and daunted to work at the intersection of different disciplines (material sciences, chemistry, pharmacology), which is what nanomedicine is all about. That risk that I took, paid off and my interest in this field has only grown since after I wrote my undergraduate dissertation on drug delivery to the brain and now joined Dr Nazila Kamaly at Imperial College London.
What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?
I didn't consider a career in the sciences until late teens. To my peers and me, scientists were geeky quirky outcasts with poor hygiene, no sense of fashion and barely making ends meet in terms of salary (unfortunately, researchers at the majority of state facilities are underpaid to this day in Russia). I wish I knew that STEM is diverse, and there is an opportunity for anyone with passion for their subject of interest to shine - whether as a researcher, an educator, an entrepreneur or in any other profession where one can apply their understanding of science and technology to solve problems.
Why do you love working in STEM?
I am excited to innovate, to bring new discoveries to the world. I love that what I do matters, that one day it may contribute to a drug that will save lives.
Best advice for next generation?
Ignore those who believe that gender determines your career path. The career that you choose has nothing to do with your sex chromosomes. Don't be afraid to speak up if somebody tells you that as a girl you cannot go into STEM. Tell them to get back to you in 10 years and they will have no choice but to accept that they were wrong.
Inspo quote / fun fact / role model
“I don't exist to impress the world. I exist to live my life in a way that will make me happy.” Richard Bach