Unique Scientist: Dr. Kirsten Riches-Suman

Let’s say hello to Dr. Kirsten Riches-Suman (She/her)! Dr. Riches-Suman is a cell biologist and instructor at the University of Bradford in the United Kingdom!

What kind of scientist are you?
I’m a cellular biologist, and I investigate why cells from people with diabetes and cardiovascular disease can sometimes behave differently to cells from people who don’t have these conditions. I also teach biochemistry and genetics to undergraduate students and help them navigate their higher education journey.

What made you want to become a scientist?
I always did ‘experiments’ from a young age – my mum would find boxes of moss or bird bones that I’d hidden to see what would grow on them or how they’d decay. I always wanted to know what goes on at the smallest possible level – if this is what is happening with a person, then what’s happening in the organ? And the cell? And the molecular pathways? It’s all about curiosity!

“I always did ‘experiments’ from a young age – my mum would find boxes of moss or bird bones that I’d hidden to see what would grow on them or how they’d decay.”

Dr. Kirsten Riches-Suman

What makes you a #UniqueScientist?
I’m a woman in science, and a new mum so am learning how to balance work and home. I’ve never wanted to move for work so limited my career choices to institutions nearby where I grew up, which is quite a rarity. I also have problems with mental health, and am determined to support the next generation of scientists by cultivating good mental health practices from the start – this is all too often neglected in academia.

What’s something cool you do outside of work?
Outside of work I love old buildings and castles, and am a keen mixologist and whisky aficionado! If ever I leave science, it’ll be for the whisky or cocktail industry. It’s a great pleasure when other people enjoy my cocktail creations which sometimes take months of hard work (if sampling cocktails can be called hard work!) to perfect.

If you had one wish and could change anything in science, what would it be?
I would change this outdated perception that if you want to be a successful scientist, you have to sacrifice everything else for it. Having a balance in all aspects of your life is really important to keep your mind happy and healthy and when that happens, we’re much more innovative and productive at work.

“Having a balance in all aspects of your life is really important to keep your mind happy and healthy […]”

Dr. Kirsten Riches-Suman

Who has inspired you the most in your journey to where you are now?
My undergraduate genetics lecturer showed me what I wanted to be and how to be a great teacher. My PhD supervisor taught me more about tenacity than I could ever communicate, and both have been equally as important in shaping my career. Since becoming a lecturer, my students are also a constant source of inspiration and seeing them succeed, sometimes against the odds, is brilliant.

Let’s end on a high note! What’s something you’ve done this week that you’re proud of?
This week I’ve finally started writing my castle book again, after three years of putting grants/papers/lectures first. It’s never going to be seen by anyone else and is just for me, and gives me a real sense of contentment.


#WomenInSTEM, #MotherInSTEM, #MumInSTEM

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