Women in STEM: Yasemin

Yasemin in the lab

For my 14th woman in STEM, I interviewed Yasemin, a German passionate PhD student, who communicates science in German.

Hi @snazzyscienceblogger! First of all would you like to tell us something about you?

My name is Yasemin, I am 26 years old and in the second year of my PhD. I grew up in a little town in Baveria (Germany) and my dream has always been to study at the Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich! I am not kidding πŸ˜„ My first memory about that is when I was round about 5 years old πŸ˜„ And in the end I really got the opportunity to complete my Bacherlor’s and Master’s degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences at the Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich. I also spent 5 months at the University of Oxford during my Master’s program, which was really demanding but I am grateful to have had the opportunity to be there. I learnt so much!

When did you start your Instagram account? How did you get the idea?

I started my scientific Instagram account just recently (beginning of February). I wanted to share science with everyone and in a language so everyone can understand it! There are a lot of scicommers doing their brilliant work in English, but a scicommer doing all of that in German was lacking! I want people to understand science in their native language and try to keep it as simple as possible, so everyone is able to comprehend. Which is quite difficult sometimes, as scientist are using a “special” language to communicate science! But I try my best, and so far I get good feedback from my lovely followers, which makes me really happy. I especially want to encourage girls to join STEM, because I face the problem of underestimation. As I appear to be really girly and I am also not quite tall, people were underestimating my skills! And that made me furious, so I want to show/convince that girls can do GREAT science! We are not lacking anything! We do have one brain and two hands, such as our male colleagues! So what are you waiting for? HANDS ON SCIENCE!

Can you tell us something about how you balance work and private life?

That’s a difficult topic πŸ˜„ As I love my job so much, I don’t mind working a lot. BUT of course at some point my body starts to rebel. When I am really stressed, I get really tense muscles and when I start dreaming about my experiments (I think every scientist knows what I am talking about here), yeah than I listen to my body and realize OKAY, I exaggerated again and than i keep it slow. But sometimes the experiment requires you to stay 12 to 13 hours in the lab or to come in at the weekends, but if this is the case I always try to treat my self with good food, shopping or going out for dinner/cinema with friends.

During your academic studies how many women were in course? Why in your opinion?

As I studied pharmaceutical sciences there were a lot more female students in my course than male ones, at least in the Bachelor’s. In the Master’s that changed a little bit and the number was equal between genders. Now, in my PhD the number is equal again, but I have the feeling that depends on the research area, it seems like there are more man doing synthesis and more women doing biology, but maybe this also comes from all the prejudices… I really don’t know why the number of women are decreasing with higher degree, I also made a post about that once and was wondering if the majority of women really quite their jobs to become caring mommies or if there is really an injustice and man are preferentially hired for leading positions.

Have you ever felt harassed or being kept apart as a scholar because you are a woman?

Luckily, not really! Only that some people underestimated my skills, because of my appearance, but I think I did proof them all wrong after they got to know me! So, ladies: Keep your heads up!

How did you become passionate about science?

After I finished school I had a voluntary job at a psychiatric clinic, and I was so astonished by the behavioral change of patients after treatment that I was so keen on finding out how drugs work- I had so many questions like: How do drugs know where to act in the body ? – How long does it take till the drug is completely out of the body? – How does depot medication work? – Why is it important to give different dosage forms – can’t it all just be pills?

Would you like to talk briefly about your job?

I really love my job! My boss is the best, she always encourages us to follow our own ideas but also shows us the right path if we are stuck. I am also really happy about my colleagues, I would consider us as more than colleagues, we are friends! That creates such a nice work environment. In terms of science, we are investigating the dynamic changes of RNA modifications in different organisms using HPLC-MS. Working on bioanalytical chemistry of ribonucleic acids is so nice, because it is merging biology, chemistry and analytics, so you keep your mind busy with all areas you learned about in your studies πŸ™‚

Thank you so much for your time. Lastly, can you give any advice to girls interested in STEM?

JUST DO IT! Stop listening to people who tell you: you are a girl you should become a teacher or you should do something with arts, or languages…that’s also fine of course, but you can also be an explorer, do fancy experiments, find out cool stuff no one else has found out before and finally even win the Nobel prize. Doesn’t it sound fantastic? I think it does! Try to talk to your science teachers, maybe they can help you to do an internship in that field and you can find out if you want to be the next Marie Curie or Rosalind Franklin.

You can Yasemin also on ResearchGate and LinkedIn.

If you are interested in what her research group does, check her professor’s Twitter.

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