A new month, a new scientist takes the spotlight! Say hello to Elanoré J. Ward (She/her)! Elanoré is interested in cancers, particularly those caused by viral infections and currently studies at the University of Derby in the UK!
What kind of scientist are you?
I consider myself to be an oncogenic virologist; my interest was originally human papillomavirus (HPV) and associated malignancies. However, since then, my knowledge and interests have delved deeper oncology, particularly breast (growing links to HPV) and uterine cancers.
Furthermore, I have given several lectures to nursing, biomedical and medicine students on Transgender healthcare looking at the process of transitioning, treatments, changes to health risks (HPV, HIV, and cancers) and sociological effects. I was recently awarded the university-wide Paul McMullen awards for inclusion along with the vice chancellors award for out standing service to the college of life and natural sciences.
In my spare time, I do reading around sex, reproduction, and relationships, but I do not currently consider this to be for career purposes and merely just a random interest.
What made you want to become a scientist?
I had a very rough school life being bullied probably every day with this being verbal and Physical and of a homophobic nature. I did not fully understand how I felt, and was very isolated with no friends, couldn’t even read or write at the start of secondary school. At secondary school I became very close to one of the Physics teachers, I considered him to be my first “friend,” and his classroom was always open to me for a safe place to get away from everything. Well, he also taught me to read and write in our lunch breaks and throughout secondary school was one of only two teachers who believed in me, the other being my chemistry teacher. I left school only securing GCSE’s in physics, chemistry, biology, and geography.
In my early 20’s after recovering from a mental breakdown and coming out as Trans-sexual, I wanted to do something meaningful with my life, I enrolled at college to study the only thing I understood at school: Science! And so four years later at the age of 26, I’ve not long finished my undergraduate degree and have started an MRes with plans to go on to complete a Ph.D.
“In my early 20’s after recovering from a mental breakdown and coming out as Trans-sexual, I wanted to do something meaningful with my life, I enrolled at college to study the only thing I understood at school: Science!”Elanoré Ward
What makes you a #UniqueScientist?
So this is kind of weird for me as I don’t like labels. But I’m male to female transsexual, lesbian and demi-romantic. To complicate this, even more, I also have intersex characteristics stemming from Klinefelter’s syndrome (47XXY) as well as a genetic mutation linked to sex determination. This made childhood and adolescence very difficult as it had not been diagnosed at this point.
I also suffer from mental health issues in terms of depression and PTSD. However, this has become much better since starting my journey into academia and Science.
What’s something cool you do outside of work?
So I love taking part in sport, however much of a minefield it maybe being transsexual. I play three football (soccer) matches a week, as well as competing in recurve archery (the same style as what you see at the Olympics).
And after spending hours shooting and in the laboratory, I enjoy drinking Ales from local microbreweries and inviting my colleagues back to my place for a dinner party.
If you had one wish and could change anything in science, what would it be?
Everything comes down to money, unfortunately. So yeah more money for research, more money to live off, more money for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds.
To be honest, wouldn’t a bottomless money chest for research be amazing!
“[My Physics teacher] also taught me to read and write in our lunch breaks and throughout secondary school was one of only two teachers who believed in me, the other being my chemistry teacher.”Elanoré Ward
Who has inspired you the most in your journey to where you are now?
Firstly my secondary school physics teacher.
Then at university, there were three amazing people who I have to say it has been an honour to work with, they are Gillian Knight (Aston University), Elizabeth Marsh and Aimee Whitton both currently at the University of Derby. I would be in the position I am without these three people, and I hope the opportunities to work with these individuals carry on in the future.
Let’s end on a high note! What’s something you’ve done this week that you’re proud of?
After 12 weeks away from archery to concentrate on university stuff, I shot two personal bests in a matter of 4 hours, one being a Portsmouth round (60 arrows @20 metres, 60cm target) and also a Bray-1 (30 arrows @20metres, 40cm target), the Bray was by far the best I have ever shot scoring 247 from a possible 300 and only being 30 points behind the British record for this format.