Sara Wong

PhD student, University of Nottingham


You will be surprised at what you can achieve!

What do you do?

I am a neuroscientist.

My current work looks at how I can improve intranasal delivery of oxytocin and achieve better brain penetration. Oxytocin, infamously dubbed 'the love hormone' is a hormone and neuropeptide that facilitates multitude processes and behaviour! Its main role is in childbirth and lactation, but more recently has gained popularity for its ability to modulate social behaviour and cognitive deficits. Thus, making it a popular peptide of investigation for neurodevelopment disorders such as autism and schizophrenia.

Why did you choose this field?

Growing in a traditional Asian environment, you are expected to pursue medicine, pharmacy or engineering.

When I was first taught Biology in high school, I really enjoyed it! I told myself that I wanted to work in the World Health's Organisation (WHO) when I grew up. Yet, I knew from the very beginning, medicine was not something I was interested in. I wanted to do 'behind the scenes' science, but I had no idea what subject to pursue in university. My parents did not go to university, and being the eldest daughter, it was up to me and my mother (bless her for putting so much effort into my education) to muddle our way through.

I was introduced to Biomedical Science by my teacher eventually (which was what I read for my undergraduate degree) and loved the broad range of subjects under it. I gradually found myself drawn towards pharmacology and later down the line, neuroscience.

I found the brain fascinating! I loved learning about the different neurotransmitters, how neurones communicate and the pathways that go wrong in the brain in certain CNS diseases. I never turned back since discovering that passion.

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

Being a first generation scientist, I am very proud of how far I have come and the journey I have experienced thus far. I would love younger me to know that anything is possible. You may not start off with the best financial background, the best schooling environment. You may need to muddle your way through sometimes, but as long as you keep your goal set in mind, it IS possible.

Why do you love working in STEM?

I love the complexity of science. I love having a question in mind and putting bits and pieces together to answer that question. I love the freedom to explore questions and knowing that I am satisfying the curiosity I had in me since I was little.

Best advice for next generation?

If you set a goal in life to achieve, stick to it. It might seem ridiculous and unachievable, but you will be surprised at what you can achieve!

Inspo quote / fun fact / role model

“The only person standing in your way is yourself.”

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