Scientist/ Analyst Scientist/ Analyst
Ever since I was a kid, I have been obsessed with science and figuring out how things work. I was always trying to understand the scientific explanation behind things and had even this dream of becoming a scientist who could have influence in pharmaceutical area. So, I studied Chemistry for my BSc and MSc degrees in Portugal, focusing mainly on physical chemistry.
During my MSc program, I had this incredible chance to go to Norway and step out of my comfort zone. It was such an eye-opening experience because I got to meet scientists from all over the world and really immerse myself in the international scientific community. It was there that I met some amazing female scientists who truly inspired me and helped shape my own path. When I came back to Portugal, I decided to take it a step further and pursued a Ph.D. in Biophysics, which took me to labs in Spain, Belgium, Germany, and Slovakia.
But after completing my Ph.D., I felt a bit stuck. I realized that I needed to explore different avenues, so I took a leap and joined a scientific consultancy group as a scientist in London. It was an interesting experience because I collaborated closely with clients, solving various problems, and even had a chance to contribute to creating new products. But deep down, I knew it was not fulfilling my long-term goals.
Now, I am super excited to embark on a new adventure in my professional life. I have just started a job at a pharmaceutical company, where I will be focusing on analytical development. I cannot wait to see what opportunities await me in this new chapter. The future looks promising, and I am ready to have influence in the pharmaceutical industry.
I have a list of advice for women embarking on their STEM careers, tailored to distinct stages of life, but I promise to keep it short. Undoubtedly, the field has historically been dominated by men and can still present challenges, and there will be times that I know that women will want to quit. However, the positive news is that things are changing, and it is crucial for us to speak up, embrace this transformation and be part of it. It is important not to doubt yourself and remember that everyone progresses at their own pace.
I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have reached the position I am in today, and a significant part of that is owed to the unwavering support of my parents. However, I believe the turning point in my journey was pursuing my Ph.D. in biophysics. Throughout this period, I made a conscious effort to gain as much experience as possible. I actively sought involvement in various projects and refused to give up, even during the challenging and often discouraging job search process. In my spare time, I also took the initiative to pursue additional training outside of my expertise, such as coding and management.
I do not have an extensive list of projects (nor can disclosure much) but during my Ph.D., alongside my own research project, I actively participated in standardization efforts and contributed to the development of analytical techniques. Additionally, I engaged in projects focused on the analytical characterization of drugs. In my role as a consultant, I had the opportunity to delve further into projects related to the study of physicochemical properties of food, formulation of plant-based food products, and the exploration of novel technologies for plant treatment.
I take great pride in my ability to adapt to diverse environments. Starting a new project or interacting with different individuals on a daily basis does not faze me. It has become a “normal” part of my professional life, and I embrace the challenges and opportunities that come with it.
I prefer to start my day early, using my commute time to check and respond to emails, as well as plan my tasks for the day. Upon arriving at the office, I organize my schedule based on the priority tasks at hand. When I need to work in the lab, I typically begin with those tasks, allowing myself the remainder of the day, whenever possible, to review and analyse the data, determining if any experiments need to be repeated. I strive to maintain a regular work schedule so that I can leave on time and dedicate a portion of my evenings to some daily exercise, which is important to me.
My favourite part is when everything comes together and you have the “Eureka” moment, and everything makes sense, and you can “finally” formulate a theory.
Yes, I have faced career setbacks in the past. When encountering setbacks, I approach them as opportunities for growth and learning. Initially is not easy to not become discouraged, but I try to analyse the situation to understand the factors that led to the setback. This helps me identify areas for improvement and determine the necessary steps to overcome the setback.
I really like to explore London and I try as much as possible to catch up with my friends that I cannot see during the week. But my most go to in my free time is to sit on the grass with my friends and just enjoying the sun
Indeed, overcoming imposter syndrome and self-doubt can be an ongoing process. While there isn’t a magical button to switch it off instantly, I have found that practical exercises can be helpful in addressing these feelings. I often ask myself questions such as “Does this self-doubt make sense logically?” or “Is my perception of my abilities aligned with reality?” This helps me gain perspective and challenge the negative thoughts.
I also find it beneficial to analyse why I might be feeling this way. Is it due to external pressures, comparisons to others, or unrealistic expectations? By understanding the root causes, I can work towards addressing them directly.
Another technique that has proven effective for me is to imagine if my best friend were in a comparable situation. What advice or encouragement would I give them? This helps me provide myself with the same kindness and support that I would offer to a loved one.
Being a woman means breaking barriers, challenging stereotypes, and being a woman in STEM means contributing my unique perspective to the field and embracing my passion for science and technology, despite historical underrepresentation and societal expectations. And the most important thing to me, being a woman in STEM means advocating for equality and inclusion.
Never done it unfortunately, although always thought of doing it.