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February Spotlight Feature - Laura Taylor

I think it’s definitely good to have someone who understands what it is you’re going through and who can give you advice from when they were in your position.

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Laura and I’m an Associate Practitioner in Histopathology in the NHS. In my job, I do things such as preparing slides for MDT meetings, scribing for specimen cut up, picking up sections of tissue on slides for staining and machine maintenance.

I originally applied for Medicine at University, but didn’t get the grades. I went through Clearing and got onto Biomedical Sciences at the University of Lincoln, which was the best thing to happen to me! I loved lab work and also did my masters in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the same university looking at cancer. I was also a lab technician before starting my MLA role in the NHS in 2020. Outside of work, I do pole fitness, enjoy reading and science communication.

2. What is your earliest recollection of wanting to pursue a career in science?

When I was younger I always enjoyed science and was even in a science club when I was 10-11 years old. Because I also enjoyed helping people, the only career that ever got suggested as an option was Medicine, so that’s what I thought I wanted to do. I also really enjoyed History so I was a bit stuck with what A-Levels to pick to help my university applications. I ended up applying for medicine and got offers, but I’m so glad that I didn’t go as I wouldn’t have enjoyed it.

I never got told about any other careers in science until I was at University

3. Did mentorship play a role in your academic journey ? If so, how?

I didn’t have a mentor per say during my time at University, but I definitely had people I could turn to. I ended up becoming good friends with one of the lab demonstrators in my undergrad degree and then worked on some summer projects for the company he worked for. I also had personal statements checked for me by my supervisor who also helped me with any questions I had. I think it’s definitely good to have someone who understands what it is you’re going through who can give you advice from when they were in your position.

4. Do you have a female STEM role model? If so, how do they inspire you?

So from the past I really like Elsie Inglis, a Scottish doctor and suffragist who campaigned for better women's medical care, and established the Scottish Women’s hospital when the war office refused to fund them. When she approached the Royal Army Medical Corps to offer them a ready-made medical unit staffed by qualified women, the War Office told her, "my good lady, go home and sit still”. Instead she worked across the world to help improve hygiene in hospitals. Currently I am inspired by many of the women in STEM speaking up to improve diversity and change in STEM, such as Dr Zoe Ayres, Dr Izzy Jayasinghe and Professor Selina Wray.

5. What is the biggest message you try to convey to your social media audience?

I always try to tell people that there is no set path to where you want to be. I also encourage the fact that there are jobs outside of academia, and there is no set way for a scientist to be.

It’s completely ok if your route changes, or if things don’t work out.

6. What are 3 key messages about STEM that you hope to convey to youth today?

  • There is no set path, so follow what you enjoy and know it’s ok if things don’t work out

  • Raise the voices of those more disadvantaged than yourself

  • There’s no such thing as a stupid question, so keep asking and keep learning

Follow Laura on Instagram @ techingonscience

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