I’m featured on my University’s website!

I’m in the middle of thesis writing at the moment so haven’t posted on here for a while – apologies!

I was recently asked to take part in my university’s PhD spotlight series where you share a bit about your research and student experience at the University of Sussex. It was a really useful exercise to reflect on the last few years and I’m very thankful to my colleagues in the School of Life Sciences who thought my story was worth sharing.

Fiona in lab goggles, white lab coat and purple gloves working in a lab fume cupboard
Picture caption: Fiona in lab goggles, a white lab coat and purple gloves working in a lab fume cupboard

I’ve been working in the chemistry labs of the Sussex Drug Discovery Centre (SDDC) making and optimising drug-like molecules, called chemical tools or probes. Specifically, I’ve been working on tools which aim to shut down the action of an enzyme called protein kinase N2 (PKN2). Kinases are signalling proteins in our bodies that tell our cells to do all sorts of important jobs. Unfortunately, some of them go rogue and send the wrong signals at the wrong time, such as telling a cancer cell to keep dividing. PKN2 is a kinase we don’t understand particularly well and is reportedly involved in several sub-types of cancer and potentially inflammation and heart disease as well.

My advice to those who are about to embark on a similar PhD would be to establish a good support network around you, both inside and outside of the lab. A PhD takes a lot of resilience and self-motivation, more than I expected, and you’ll need those people for celebrating the highs and working through the lows. You should also find at least one other interest outside of your work (a hobby, a pastime, a side hustle) that gives your brain a break from the science now and again.

Check out the rest of the article here.

Do you take time to reflect? What have been the highlights and challenges of your career so far? Let me know in the comments below.


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