• Question: what was your biggest struggle with being a scientist?

    Asked by littleleah on 7 Jun 2019. This question was also asked by cimronthp, tiana, sksk.
    • Photo: Nina Rzechorzek

      Nina Rzechorzek answered on 7 Jun 2019:


      Probably thinking that I wasn’t good enough or smart enough to do it. Although there are some extremely bright people doing science, you don’t need to be a genius to be a clinician or a scientist. The main things you need are curiosity, passion and hard work.

    • Photo: David Wilson

      David Wilson answered on 7 Jun 2019:


      Science is very competitive, it’s hard getting in to the University your want to go to, it’s hard getting the job you want, it’s hard to get money from grants to do your work, it’s hard when your experiments don’t do what you thought they might do, it’s hard to publish your work once you’ve done it.
      None of this means your a bad scientist it’s just means there’s a lot of people that want the same thing but it can be a struggle when it feels like things aren’t going your way.

    • Photo: Kate Timms

      Kate Timms answered on 7 Jun 2019:


      I agree with Nina, a lot of us suffer from what we call Imposer Syndrome, which means you think that you’re not good enough no matter what you achieve or do. This can make you doubt yourself a lot.
      The other really hard thing is that it’s a lot of work. It’s definitely not a 9-5 job, so you have to be willing to make sacrifices. You won’t always be able to go out with your friends or spend the evening watching Netflix. But the rewards in terms of satisfaction when things work and you discover something definitely outweigh that.
      Lastly, because we have to apply for funding for our research at fairly short intervals (usually projects last about 3 years) then there isn’t a lot of job security. Which might mean that you have to move quite a bit in your early years as a scientist. I recently had to move from Manchester to Leeds because we didn’t get the money to carry on our research in Manchester, which was really difficult because I loved that research and I love Manchester. We will keep trying though! You should never give up if you believe that your research is important and will make a difference!

    • Photo: Marianne King

      Marianne King answered on 7 Jun 2019:


      I find it hard sometimes to believe that I’m good enough to be a scientist. Or that I’ve somehow managed to get onto my PhD through only luck and chance, like it’s a mistake somehow and they didn’t mean to choose me! As Kate mentioned it’s this horrible thing called Imposter Syndrome. 🙂 Lots of scientists have it though so we’re in good company.

    • Photo: Shonna Johnston

      Shonna Johnston answered on 8 Jun 2019:


      That’s a difficult one! The biggest struggle I had was near the start of my career. Technical positions in universities tended to be 3 year fixed term contracts so I left a job I enjoyed to follow a permanent position elsewhere, but the new job was nowhere near as interesting or stimulating. I ended up staying for less than a year and going back to a short term uni position. Thankfully it was a great decision as my contract was extended and I have been in my department ever since (~20 years). I found my niche in Flow Cytometry and was able to develop my career and the lab into a core facility.

    • Photo: Rebecca Moon

      Rebecca Moon answered on 13 Jun 2019:


      Getting other people to believe in me and fund my research. Research is expensive and without money it can’t happen 🙁

    • Photo: Shobhana Nagraj

      Shobhana Nagraj answered on 14 Jun 2019:


      Agree with all the above! Self-doubt, highly-competitive funding and imposter syndrome have all been challenges at times!

    • Photo: Kaitlin Wade

      Kaitlin Wade answered on 14 Jun 2019:


      My biggest struggle at the moment is probably the competitiveness. To progress in research, you have to be the best at answering a question that either no one else is trying to answer or doing it in a way that no one else has thought of. To get money for working in an independent way, you have to sell yourself as this person so it’s difficult to justify when there are other groups either similar to you that actually you would love to work with rather than compete with. It’s quite a dog-eat-dog world, unfortunately. But it’s worth it.

    • Photo: Matthew Bareford

      Matthew Bareford answered on 20 Jun 2019:


      Getting people to look past my disability and to give me a chance to be the scientist I know I am.

      But I managed it.

    • Photo: Thiloka Ratnaike

      Thiloka Ratnaike answered on 24 Jun 2019:


      The biggest challenge I face now is balancing clinical work and research work. This makes the competition I face in both fields much higher because I have less time to become ‘good’ at either field compared to my peers. So, self-doubt is a big struggle, never feeling that I was good-enough to be amongst the other brilliant minds in my field. I have a great supervisor at the moment who is a clinical academic and so is a good person to chat with about these struggles!

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