And one of our #UniqueAmbassadors, Matthew Sinton (He/him), has joined the party! Matthew is a Ph.D. student in cardiovascular biology at the University of Edinburgh in the UK and the Founder of The STEM Village!
What kind of scientist are you?
I’m a PhD student, studying nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, which is a growing health problem across the world. Around 90% of people who are obese are thought to have the disease, but we don’t yet understand why in some people it starts to cause health problems.
What made you want to become a scientist?
I’ve always been super curious about how the world works. For a long time I thought I wanted to be a geologist and investigate ancient climates and ecosystems on Earth. I’ve always liked figuring things out, and one day I decided I wanted to figure out more about the human body.
“I grew up with Crohn’s Disease and had to have life-saving surgery as a teenager, involving having an ileostomy made. This really changed my trajectory.”Matthew Sinton
What makes you a #UniqueScientist?
I think being both LGBT and having a hidden disability. I grew up with Crohn’s Disease and had to have life-saving surgery as a teenager, involving having an ileostomy made. It’s similar to a colostomy but a different part of the intestine. This really changed my trajectory. I didn’t do as well at school, and I had to go to the local university to be close to my family. This got a lot of judgement and initially made it harder to progress in science. But I found a way!
What’s something cool you do outside of work?
Recently, I set up The STEM Village, which is a Scotland-based network for LGBTQ+ people in STEM. We’re really hoping to provide a network, which can help people to communicate and collaborate, and to support each other. This is going to help increase the visibility of LGBTQ+ people STEM and hopefully help others to see that there isn’t a set mould for scientists. Also, we’re really keen to have people curate the account, so if you’re interested, please drop me a message through Twitter.
If you had one wish and could change anything in science, what would it be?
I think the insecurity. The majority of us do what we do because we’re passionate and curious, but we work hard to get where we are. To work for years to be told you’re only going to be given a 3 year contract, or you didn’t get tenure. That’s brutal. And it means that so many amazing people and so much experience gets lost. It needs to change.
“The majority of us do what we do because we’re passionate and curious, but we work hard to get where we are.”Matthew Sinton
Who has inspired you the most in your journey to where you are now?
A couple of people. My biology teacher, Pamela, when I was 18. She encouraged me so much, and never put me off trying difficult things. She’s part of the reason that I’m interested in metabolism. My university lecturers, Dave & Helen, who always encouraged my enthusiasm. My current mentor, Mandy, who is so supportive & again encourages my enthusiasm. And my husband, Juan. I was going through a phase where I thought I wasn’t cut out for science, and he helped me to push through it.
Let’s end on a high note! What’s something you’ve done this week that you’re proud of?
I’ve been learning how to do some bioinformatics, having no background in it. This week I managed to get a script up and running! Very happy with that!