Unique Scientist: Dr. Christina Fitzsimmons

Time to meet Dr. Christina Fitzsimmons (She/her)! Dr. Fitzsimmons is a cell and molecular biologist at the NCI Center for Cancer Research in the USA!

What kind of scientist are you?
I am currently a postdoctoral fellow at the NCI Center for Cancer Research. In particular, I’m interested in understanding how RNA modifications and gene expression are influenced by changes in the metabolic state of cells.

What made you want to become a scientist?
I love science because I love to know how and why things work! As a child I owned a series of books about the natural world that explained scientific concepts like “Why Does it Float” or “Why Do Leaves Change Color?” I had those books memorized! As I grew older, I was fortunate to have a number of teachers who recognized my curiosity and also challenged me to reach the next level.

“I was fortunate to have a number of teachers who recognized my curiosity and also challenged me to reach the next level.”

Dr. Christina Fitzsimmons

What makes you a #UniqueScientist?
Aside from my younger brother and I, nobody in my family really studied science in school. I’m also the first person in my family to get a PhD. As a result, I’ve worked hard to identify people and resources to help me navigate science and the unwritten rules of academia.

What’s something cool you do outside of work?
In grad school, I did a great deal of outreach through @SEP_UCSF, a program that pairs scientists with K-12 school teachers in the San Francisco Unified School District to teach hands-on science lessons. Elementary schoolers are super enthusiastic, and it always brightened my day to visit a classroom to teach.
On the personal side, outside of work I love being active with things like hiking, cycling, running, and lindy-hop. On rainy days, you’ll find me playing board games or browsing the local public library for the latest sci-fi books.

If you had one wish and could change anything in science, what would it be?
Often, science is taught to students as a rote set of facts to be memorized, instead of as a dynamic and ever-changing process. I’d really love to find a way to get more high school, or even middle school students involved in research and field work, so that they can see that science isn’t something you learn about in a classroom, but that it encompasses the world around them.

“I’ve worked hard to identify people and resources to help me navigate science and the unwritten rules of academia.”

Dr. Christina Fitzsimmons

Who has inspired you the most in your journey to where you are now?
I am extremely grateful for the many teachers and mentors along the way who have nurtured my curiosity and shared their own love science. Thank you for answering countless questions, recommending additional reading material, setting challenging goals, and investing in my future. I would not be the scientist I am today without your hard work and dedication.

Let’s end on a high note! What’s something you’ve done this week that you’re proud of?
I’m proud of taking time outside of lab to catch dinner with friends and enjoy some trail running in the wonderful September weather!


#WomenInSTEM

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