STEMinist Profile: Nicola Derbyshire, Ph.D. Student, Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry

Nicola Derbyshire

Ph.D. Student, Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry

University of Leeds



What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
A general interest in sciences and being told I was good at it by a chemistry teacher at secondary school.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
I spent a large portion of my PhD working on the application of aptamers in biosensors which could lead to some really cool diagnostics applications. It’s not there yet but the future of this project looks “cool.”

Role models/heroes:
Not sure. I have an amazing mentor, the post doc that I currently work with who is supportive and inspiring. Ultimately I admire anyone who is able to be happy in their work and personal life at same time. Many people sacrifice one for the other and I don’t feel it has to be this way.

Why do you love working in STEM?
It keeps my brain ticking and I love solving the puzzle. I trained as a biomedical scientist first and though I loved the job I realised it would very quickly become routine and monotonous leading to boredom. Being in research instead means I am always engaging my brain, having to consider the small niggling problems and also the bigger picture.

Advice for future STEMinists?
Pick your project wisely. If you aren’t inspired by it before you start it will be extremely difficult to keep up the momentum when things aren’t going so well.

Favorite website/app:
Twitter. I get all my social and science updates in one place, have made new contacts and solidified existing ones. It has enabled me to gather advice from essentially complete strangers and encourages concise communication, something I (and many other scientists) seem to find difficult.

Twitter: @Nic_Derbyshire