DPhil Student, Structural Genomics Consortium
Belinda was always fascinated by natural phenomena, like weather and astronomy, as a child. Although neither of her parents have a scientific background, they were always very supportive of her interest in science. Whilst in school Belinda was involved in several science projects and developed an interest in how scientists gained the knowledge found in science books.
Belinda studied for a five-year Diploma degree in Biochemistry at the Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. During her studies she was able to gain a lot of experience in Structural Biology with internships at the University of Oxford and the National Institute for Medical Research in London. She finished her Diploma degree in 2012 with her thesis project at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysics in Frankfurt, Germany. She started her DPhil in Clinical Medicine in October 2013. She is under the supervision of Associate Professor Liz Carpenter, in the Structural Genomics Consortium.
Can you describe a typical day at work?
BF: On a typical day at work I purify protein from insect cells and set-up subsequent experiments like crystallisation trials or other biophysical measurements. That involves harvesting protein from cells and using several other techniques to filter out all components of the cell apart from my protein I want to investigate. It is also very important to report all your results carefully in order to repeat experiments and learn from the outcome. So I also spend some time on my computer analysing and writing up results.
What do you like best about being a scientist?
BF: As a scientist you can experience new areas of life and nature no one else has investigated before. Processes in the cell are complicated and intertwined so analysing a part of that network and contributing to an overall picture of it is very rewarding.
What advice would you give to other women considering a career in science?
BF: I think it is very important for a career in science to love the field you are working in. It can take a while until you will get results for your work and discover something new. During that time you have to have motivation and the overall fascination for it that keeps you going. But it is very rewarding if you discover a new puzzle piece which fits into the whole picture of how a certain biological pathway or mechanism works. Something I was not aware of before I had started studying is, that science is very interdisciplinary. You do not have to have a certain research area already in mind when you choose a subject. Start studying something that you might be interested in in the broader context. You will find a certain field that you would like to specialise in later in your studies.