Please could you share something about your career as a Biochemist - how did you get into that field?
I got into biochemistry when I realised it was all of the sciences combined. I am greedy when it comes to science you see and I couldn't get enough of each subject and loved it when they met in the middle. This is what directed me to pursue biochemistry at university and over time I funnelled down into structural biology where I found my field. I could read about it all day and still not get sick of it. I think that this borderline obsession is important when figuring out which field to lean into, and so from that, I decided to read a PhD in structural bioinformatics where I could look at proteins on many different scales, from atomic to cellular. I loved this field so much that my imposter syndrome mutated into a curiosity that fuelled me to write a book about it.
Does it feel like a good fit for a Neurodivergent woman?
It feels like a great fit for me. I can't speak on behalf of every neurodivergent person out there - however I will highlight the importance of not feeling guilty for having a passion, even if it makes you go wild about it. This is the thing about being neurodivergent, you often get low-key shamed or pitied in being too much or too reactive, hysterical or crazy. So you end up making a safety mechanism that channels this into an indifference so that we look more 'reasonable'. Whatever it is you like doing, be it science, ceramics, art installations, or even landscaping, for example, this is an essential part of you that you must keep alive. This is your 'weird'.
Have you faced many challenges?
Yes, but the trick is to not take them personally. This can be hard, especially as I can be hypersensitive and care quite a lot. But this if anything makes me want to reach out more and make it happen. Immediately, yes it can be demoralizing, but I just have to adjust my formulations of what isn't and is on my side. I am if anything more motivated to do it, as I don't like being told that I can't do something (unless the principles of physics disallow it, or if it breaches the moral code of humanity). One could attribute this to my ADHD, but being honest, I think it's just a part of my character that always likes to challenge why.
What do you love about your work?
Any advice for another Neurodivergent woman hoping to have a career like yours?
Never apologise for taking up space and recognise when you are making excuses and self-limiting beliefs such as ' I am not technical enough' or ' I am less experienced than X'. You are already enough and if you want to go into a field, then make room for it, upskill on what you know you like to do every day, and start making a place for yourself and not rely on others to make it for you. I see this to be a pattern in women, where we will do the 'glue' work of the department so we have more of a place. Don't settle for doing things passed down because no one wants to do them, you aren't there to clean everybody's technical trash, you are there as a professional - stand up for that please. Yes, you will face setbacks and biases in the system but this is slowly changing and we are here to work with the systems that will work with us.