Unique Scientist: Dr. Fiona Ingleby

Time to meet Dr. Fiona Ingleby (She/her)! Dr. Ingleby is a multidisciplinary geneticist and epidemiologist Research Fellow at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in the UK!

What kind of scientist are you?
I did my PhD and first postdoc on context-dependent gene expression and gene-environment interactions. I did a lot of cool genetics experiments with fruit flies and I enjoyed it all, a lot. I left academia for a few years following that, and I worked at a biomedical research charity, then a clinical trials unit, mostly doing statistical analyses. Now, I’m just about to start in another academic field, as a research fellow role in cancer epidemiology. I’m really proud to be a multi-disciplinary scientist.

What made you want to become a scientist?
I love animals, the ocean, and the natural world in general. I’m lucky to come from a supportive family who encouraged me to experience wildlife and ask questions about it all, as well as encouraging me to pursue the subjects at school and university that excited me.

“I’ve taken a non-traditional route through different research areas, and doing non-academic roles has given me a really unique skill set and perspective.”

Dr. Fiona Ingleby

What makes you a #UniqueScientist?
As a woman in STEM, I quite often find myself in situations where I’m in a minority. I also felt really out of place in my undergrad degree – I studied at an old, established university for a zoology degree and I found myself in the middle of a lot of students from wealthy backgrounds who could afford to spend all summer doing voluntary field experience all around the world. I’m also aware of my career so far is really unique – I’ve taken a non-traditional route through different research areas, and doing non-academic roles has given me a really unique skill set and perspective.

What’s something cool you do outside of work?
I paint a lot, and have my paintings on the walls in my home. I also love foreign languages and try to learn new ones as much as possible – at the moment I’m taking Japanese lessons. It comes in handy when I travel! I’m really outdoorsy and do loads of hiking, snorkelling and diving. No matter where I go in the world, I get myself out there and try to find amazing animals. A few favourites have been great white sharks in South Africa, manta rays in the Maldives, and macaques in Japan.

If you had one wish and could change anything in science, what would it be?
There are a lot of structural aspects of academia that put minority groups at a disadvantage and this really harms equality and diversity efforts in STEM. It’s very hard to pick just one of those aspects to change, but the first that comes to mind is the peer review system. I think the current system allows too much bias (subconscious or otherwise) and when you think of how much a scientist’s career depends on publishing, the long-term consequences of this bias are just so unacceptable.

“I think the current system allows too much bias and when you think of how much a scientist’s career depends on publishing, the long-term consequences of this bias are just so unacceptable.”

Dr. Fiona Ingleby

Who has inspired you the most in your journey to where you are now?
My MSc supervisor, who was the first woman in STEM that I worked closely with. All the senior academics I’d worked with prior to that were men. She’s amazing – she taught me so much not only about science but about how to be a scientist. She has an attitude towards her work that is really balanced and productive, I really try to learn from that.

Let’s end on a high note! What’s something you’ve done this week that you’re proud of?
I signed the contract for a new research fellow job I’m starting soon, and I’m so excited about it! I’ll be analysing inequalities in access to cancer treatments, and the implications of this for cancer survival. It’s something I feel strongly about and it’s so amazing to apply my stats skills to such important data.


#WomenInSTEM

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