Say hello to Naomi Cox (She/Her)! Naomi currently lives in the UK where she works at The University of Sheffield (@sheffieldAPS).
What kind of scientist are you?
I work with rice! (yes, that rice…) In my PhD I am trying to learn more about how rice leaves develop. I’m hoping that if we understand how the ‘blueprint’ is set up, that we can alter it to make better leaves, and hopefully better performing plants!
What made you want to become a scientist?
I’ve always wanted to be a scientist from a young age. I thought maths was cool, I thought the ocean was cool, I thought bugs were cool… I’ve always been curious about the world around me and wanted to investigate more about it, and that’s exactly what scientists do!
“I’ve always been curious about the world around me and wanted to investigate more about it, and that’s exactly what scientists do!”Naomi Cox
What makes you a #UniqueScientist?
While the proportion of women in science at PhD level is increasing, the drop off as you get more senior is still drastic – during my undergraduate degree there was only one female professor in my entire department. I’m also bisexual, an orientation which can be either not acknowledged or not accepted by many people, even within the LGBTQ+ community, but we do exist and are not confused, except sometimes about science, which is confusing. I’ve also got a fair few tattoos and several piercings. One of the tattoos is of Photo 51 <<>> though, so that’s pretty sciency!
What’s something cool you do outside of work?
I play bass, cross stitch a bunch (it is cool, honest), and am endlessly planning new tattoos.
If you had one wish and could change anything in science, what would it be?
I really wish there was better mental health support at all levels of academia. In my experience as a PhD student, I find we are in an especially strange limbo where we’re not quite staff so can’t access the staff services, but also we’re not really students either and require different help to the undergraduates. Encouraging people to do yoga is great but there really needs to be more structured early intervention and support for ongoing conditions.
“While the proportion of women in science at PhD level is increasing, the drop off as you get more senior is still drastic – during my undergraduate degree there was only one female professor in my entire department.”Naomi Cox
Who has inspired you the most in your journey to where you are now?
This is so hard to narrow down! My mum always encouraged and fed my scientific curiosity. I remember when I was about 10, and she was completing an Open University degree, wondering around the park and counting different types of lichen on trees with her.
Let’s end on a high note! What’s something you’ve done this week that you’re proud of?
I booked (and got) a spontaneous tattoo this week! It might sound ridiculous but I’ve spent so many years letting anxiety hold me back, that being in control of my own body is a huge achievement for me.
#WomenInSTEM #QueerInSTEM #BiInSci