There is a historical precedent for major scientific advances that have come from those who have not necessarily followed the traditional academic route for their field. The field of genetics has been no exception to this phenomenon, from its conception by a particularly tenacious Augustinian monk to the somewhat less well-known story of a certain English public school teacher, Ronald Fisher.
Having recently started my PhD on the conservation management of elasmobranch (sharks, rays and skates) populations, I embarked on my first fieldwork season to Ecuador. Many people, including most of my friends, asked me if this involved swimming with sharks- and as glamorous as that sounded – their faces dropped when I inevitably told them that I went to fish markets in Ecuador to collect samples from dead sharks. Perhaps not as exciting as they had hoped.
As scientists, we need to break down the stigma associated with a career in science. By tackling the idea of ‘brainy’ and ‘highly organised’ people going into science, we can highlight the vast amount of opportunity in science, in and outside the lab.
If you’re currently looking for a PhD project or if you’re in your first year, I hope this blog can give you some guidance and useful advice on what to expect during your journey as a PhD student.