Dr Alexis L Braun, from Cambridge University, recently visited the CABD. She is an early career scientist investigating the role of centrosomes in animal fertility using the germline of Drosophila melanogaster as a model system. We wanted to ask her some questions about her research and her experience as a female scientist:
Question: When did you know you would become a scientist?
Dr L Braun grew up in a small village in Canada, Bella Coola, where she soon developed a passion for Biology. She explains that she loved nature and animals; she got her first microscope when she was only eight and used it to observe all of the bugs and plants that she could get her hands on. It was very early on when she knew she wanted to became a scientist.
Question: What was your path to becoming an academic scientist?
Upon entering postsecondary education at the University of Victoria, Canada, a family friend inspired her to pursue a career in academia. She eventually graduated with a double major in Biochemistry and Biology. One of her closest mentors advised her to move countries to gain experience, so she went to Sweden where she obtained her Master degree at the Royal Institute of Technology. Then, she moved on to do her PhD with Dr Isabel Palacios at the University of Cambridge UK. She had since carried on in academia doing her first post-doc with Dr Kimata and she is currently in Prof Glover’s lab, both at the University of Cambridge.
Question: Do you have any female examples as role models in Science and who were they?
Alexis explained that she had the great opportunity of meeting a lot of women scientist who heavily influenced her career, such as her PhD supervisor, Dr. Palacios, in whom she can still find support and advice when facing problems. Also, Prof. Anne Ferguson-Smith, the head of the Genetics Department plays a key role in her day-to-day life at the department and is one of Alexis’ inspirations as successful female scientists. Furthermore, Alexis tells us that beyond women in academia, her main inspiration has been her mother, who always professed egalitarian values against all kind of discrimination.
Question: Does the Genetics department have a gender equality committee?
Alexis explained that in the Department of Genetics there is the Equality and Wellbeing Committee that strives to improve the support for the scientists at all levels in the department. She also mentioned that the Genetics Department, and the university as a whole, has a commitment to achieve the best possible working environment for staff and students alike. Special attention is paid to the values and mandate of the Athena Swan Charter, which was created to encourage and recognise commitment to advancing the careers of women in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) employment in higher education and research. Dr. L. Braun believes that promoting a good working environment for everybody will really help to retain more women in science.
Image. Left to right: Marta S. Magri, -PhD student- and Dr. Isabel Almudi, members of the CABD Gender Equality Committee, Dr. Alexis L Braun and Prof. Acaimo González, CABD researcher and host of our speaker.