PhD Researcher, University of Birmingham

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If you want to do it, then just do it!

Sophie Mathewson

What do you do?

I research musculoskeletal ageing in care home residents. I am interested in determining how much protein older, frail individuals should consume to maximise their musculoskeletal health, and to prevent the decline with muscle mass and strength which is associated with increasing age. I am also interested in determining what methods of looking at musculoskeletal health and associated factors are appropriate in the care home setting, as there is little research in this area.

Why did you choose this field?

I always knew I was interested in pursuiting a career in a science-related subject throughout school. Following completion of my BSc in Sport and Exercise Sciences, I had increasing interest in ageing and disease. I then completed an MSc in Human Physiology to increase my knowledge in this area, and throughout this year became increasingly interested in the processes associated with ageing, and how this is linked to musculoskeletal health. The research I completed throughout my MSc in cellular mechanisms associated with ageing confirmed that this was a topic I wanted to complete further research in, however, I knew I would always want to work and conduct research interacting with people, as opposed to always working with cells. Research in the care home setting is increasingly lacking due to problems associated with assessment in this setting. Yet, these individuals are the most frail, so I believe that these older adults are those that research should be focussed on. I am passionate about working with frail older individuals and helping to improve their health and quality of life in any way possible.

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

Making it through my MSc in Human Physiology, and starting my current PhD! Throughout school I never thought I would be able to complete such a science-heavy degree, despite it being what I was most interested in. If you told me when I was at school that I would go on to start my PhD, I would never have believed you!

Why do you love working in STEM?

I wake up looking forward to working with older people and knowing that the research I am completing my really impact and benefit someones quality of life! As well as all the fun lab and science stuff (which is always super fun and makes you feel like a boss walking around in your lab coat), anyone who knows me will know that I can chat to anyone for days, so working with the older generation and getting to hear their stories of their life and what they've done always makes my day!

Best advice for next generation?

If you want to do it, then just do it! It does not matter if you aren't necessarily the smartest person in your class, if you are passionate about something then don't listen to anyone else and follow what you want to do!

Inspo quote / fun fact / role model

“Science is the great antidote to the poison of enthusiasm and superstition.”- Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations (1776)

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