I grew up in northern England, and was fortunate enough to have an outstanding high school biology teacher who sparked an early interest in genetics. This interest motivated me to complete a Bachelors degree in Genetics at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne in 1998. I then undertook my graduate studies at the Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute in Glasgow, where I researched the mechanism of cell transformation by a viral protein. After receiving my PhD in 2002 I moved to the BC Cancer Agency’s Terry Fox Laboratory in Vancouver for my postdoctoral work, and spent three years researching the impact of endogenous retroviruses on the human genome.
Realizing that I enjoyed writing about my research more than conducting it, I decided to leave academia and spent the next two years in the marketing department of a local biotechnology company. However, when the job turned out to involve much less writing than expected, I moved back to the world of academic research in 2007, joining the BC Cancer Agency’s Molecular Oncology department as a grant writer and project manager.
In this capacity, I was exposed to cutting-edge basic and clinical cancer research across multiple disciplines. I contributed to proposals and manuscripts encompassing next-generation sequencing, nuclear medicine, clinical pathology, clinical trials, and drug development, among other fields. Upon moving to a very similar job at the BC Cancer Agency’s Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre in 2012 I became involved with research in additional fields, including epigenetics, epigenomics, and bioinformatics. I love working so closely with investigators conducting world-class research, without ever having to pick up another pipette or petri dish!
My career path has allowed me to avoid the hyper-specialization common to traditional academic careers, and to stay in touch with the cutting edge of multiple aspects of life sciences research. I have learned to communicate complex scientific ideas not only to peers, but also to the public via my work on researchers’ websites and on the lay summaries of grant proposals that are required by most funding agencies. I also run social media accounts and other communications activities for the International Human Epigenome Consortium (IHEC) and the Canadian Epigenetics, Environment and Health Research Consortium (CEEHRC).
I live in Vancouver, British Columbia with my wonderful husband and two ridiculous cats.