Women in STEM: Léa

The graduate student Léa

I have the honor to introduce my 20th guest: Léa, a graduate student in neurosciences

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

Hi, my name is Léa Caya-Bissonnette. I am a second-year graduate student in neurosciences at the University of Ottawa. I am absolutely passionate about research and neurosciences.

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

I started Brain Insiders this year (2020) with the intention to create a social media platform that provides easy to access information on grad school, research and neurosciences. I got the idea from twitter; a platform often used by professionals to share research ideas and papers. I decided to use Instagram instead because it is visually appealing and targets a different demographic. I thought it would be an ideal platform to share my passion and use my scientific literacy skills to share scientific content to experts and non-experts.

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

Work life balance is something I am continuously working on. I try to maximize my time outside of the lab by combining exercise and social life. For instance, I play sports in recreational leagues. I find that it is a great way to stay healthy and to socialize. 

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

Women held a slight majority during my undergraduate degree in biomedical sciences. The distribution of men and women seemed to correlate with the topics of the class (i.e., it seemed like more men were in chemistry related courses and more women were in biology related courses). In my neurosciences graduate program, I noticed similar patterns where men tend to be in labs that are more focused in biophysics and engineering, whereas women seemed to be in labs that are more focused in biology. Though I am far from being an expert in social sciences, the reason may relate to social factors.

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

Thankfully, I have been surrounded by colleagues that are aware of the difficulties faced by women in the workplace and in the scientific community.

How did you become passionate about science? 

I am first and foremost passionate by knowledge; whether it is sciences, politics, law, literature or other topics. I strive to develop new knowledge. I find much pleasure in conducting scientific research, where I can continually question current knowledge, test hypotheses and obtain results.

Would you like to talk briefly about your job?

I am currently a graduate student in a research-based program in neurosciences at the University of Ottawa. I am fortunate enough to work under the supervision of Dr. Jean-Claude Béïque and Dr. Leonard Maler, investigating cellular correlates of learning and memory. 

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

My first advice would be to practice teamwork and collaboration on a daily basis. We always benefit from helping others. My second advice would be to try everything; to not let oneself get discouraged because something seems too hard. We never really know what we like unless we really try.

Follow Léa on her social media platforms:

Ig: https://www.instagram.com/brain_insiders/ 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CayaBissonnette

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lea-caya-bissonnette/

ResearchGate: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Lea_Caya-Bissonnette

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