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Julia Ravey Interview

Tell us about yourself

I am originally from Liverpool; a big city in the UK with a super-friendly vibe. Being a Liverpool girl, I have a strong accent and like to dress up for daily life (including rollers to work when I have a big night out!). Starting at university in a different city, I was one of very few ‘northerners’ and a lot of people were a bit taken aback by my style and scouseness. I experienced some individuals not taking me as seriously because I liked to wear makeup or thinking everything I said was funny because my voice was a bit different. I felt like this could have made me shrink away or try to change to ‘fit in’, but I didn’t. I kept being me with the focus of trashing stereotypes of what ‘clever’ is. I maintained by loud, bubbly ways, smoky eyes and sparkly dresses and now, I am PhD-ing. Your appearance should never be a factor in your success, and hopefully, I can show that to other young women wanting to pursue science.

What does an average day in the life look like for you?

My average day is pretty long! I wake up just before 5:30 am and either head to the gym or go to a chilled coffee shop near my work. I am a real advocate on not sacrificing my entire life for my degree, so making a few hours for myself in the morning lifts my mood and clears my mind. I then head to the office feeling fresh. I am trying to treat my PhD like a normal job, so I aim to be in the lab and office from 9 am until 5 pm. However, this rarely happens! My lab work is pretty varied day-to-day, but I do cell culture every day. This involves feeding neuronal cell lines and stem cell lines to keep them growing. Other common lab work I do are ELISAs, western blots and immunofluorescent (taking pretty cell pictures). Desk work normally involves making presentations, ordering reagents and analyzing data. Trying to juggle lots of different things keeps me on my toes but can be pretty exhausting and normally leads to late evenings. So, I always make time for snacks and chats with the other students and staff! When I finally get home, I normally eat a pre-cooked meal (I batch cook on the weekends) and chill in front of some reality TV. Towards the end of the week, I love going for a wine with friends and cheeky dance. Scientists just wanna have fun too.

What is your side hustle?

My side hustle is my science website and blog (www.memycellsandi.org)! This is my first attempt at trying to translate science into normal conversation. I think it is so important to have a platform to communicate the most up-to-date research in a way anyone of any background can understand. Science affects us all so new findings should not be restricted to those who have a degree. I am hoping to expand my hustle to a podcast or vlog, as well as start to illustrate quirky science images for other accounts. I am by no means an artist, but I love to draw and think it is a super-effective way to communicate tricky or dry messages. Hopefully, my illustration work may eventually provide me with some extra income – a definite bonus for a full-time student!

What would you do differently if you had your time over?

If I had my time at university over again, I would definitely make the most of all the incredible opportunities on your doorstep while you are a student. I never did a summer lab placement; something I regret as I think this provides invaluable experience for young scientists. I also didn’t research all the courses I could’ve taken or committees I could’ve joined to expand my CV and skills. I also wish I worked a bit harder and played the long-game: if you have exams in 4 month’s time, start work now! It will make you excel without even realising. My advice is if you are even slightly interested in a potential career, see what you can do during your free time at university to give yourself the option of going into that career. These experiences alongside focus and determination playing ‘the long-game’ will allow you to pursue anything. You will not regret it!

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