Mentors on Tour

Young Researchers Seek Career Advice

By Bertalan Gyenes, PhD student

Hard work leads to success, said plant biologist Caroline Dean

Mentors on Tour is a recent addition to the careers events roster at the LMS through the Athena SWAN initiative. This meeting is not about academic research, and instead gives young researchers the opportunity to talk to an established scientist and ask for their insight on how to succeed. After the popular first event with Professor Ray Goldstein in May, we had the privilege of welcoming  Professor Dame Caroline Dean in October.

Professor Dean has had a fascinating life in science with a wide array of prizes and accomplishments. She even worked for a biotechnology startup in California for a few years, before starting her own group at the John Innes Centre in Norwich. Her work there has helped to discover the fundamental molecular pathways involved in vernalization, the induction of flowering by a prolonged cold period. Her main advice was simple: don’t overthink your career decisions. She told the members of the institute to make the choice that feels right and work hard – this will lead to success. She did not avoid trickier topics either and talked about her own experiences with issues such as child care empahising the need for innovative thinking.

“It was great hearing a positive and optimistic voice about careers in academia,” said Amalia Martinez, a third year PhD student. Other students at the meeting felt it was important to have women in senior academic positions. “Professor Dean is an excellent role model, I am glad to have met her,” said Theresa Schönherr, a second year PhD student. “She has clearly always strongly advocated for women in science and it was good to hear some tips, for instance on how the John Innes Centre supports scientist couples by frequent double appointments.”

Mentors on Tour will be back in a few months’ time with another inspiring scientist. Stay tuned!