Many of my guests have talked about tuning into and pursuing your passion, when considering career options. In this episode, I talked with Mariana Vargas-Caballero about how she discovered her passion for science and about the choices and principles that brought her into the academic life.

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • The value of doing a masters before embarking on a PhD
  • How a good lab culture can empower you as an international student
  • How exercises like drawing and annotating your lifeline and drawing mind maps of your values and interests can inform your career decisisons
  • The advantages of obtaining fellowships
  • Growing your skillset to become a better candidate
  • Embracing the reality of the academic career
  • The importance of setting life1work boundaries
  • How to deal with impostor syndrome as an academic
  • The importance in engaging in groups and activities outside your research

Do you enjoy Papa PhD? Leave me a comment here – one short sentence is enough! And be sure to include your Twitter handle – that way, I can thank you personally!

Mariana Vargas Caballero

Mariana Vargas-Caballero is a Mexican/British Neuroscientist. She obtained a degree in Biology in Mexico. She then trained for a Ph.D. in Neuroscience at the University of Cambridge. With fellowship funding from Wellcome Trust, she obtained postdoctoral training at the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Toronto, and the University of Oxford.
In 2012, Dr. Vargas-Caballero established her independent research group at the University of Southampton where she is a Lecturer in Neuroscience. Her research interests focus on understanding how brain circuits are affected by dementia.

Thank you, Mariana Vargas-Caballero!

If you enjoyed this interview with Mariana, let her know by clicking the link below and leaving her a message on Twitter:

Click here to thank Mariana Vargas-Caballero on Twitter!

Click here to share your key take-away from this interview with David!

Mariana’s pearls of wisdom:

“The reality is – and it’s something that I discuss often with my students – is to land these positions, funnily enough, what you need rather than… Well, you need the skills but you need papers. You need to have demonstrated with publications that you can push those skills to fill in gaps in knowledge. And so the skills that I have are in the area of electrophysiology. And also those extra trainings that I have had have allowed me to implement techniques in molecular biology or behavioural analysis to ask questions related to dementia or memory. And so… Essentially it’s the combination of those papers and those skills that I think put me in a really good position when I applied for this job, both of those things.

“I realised that I value knowledge and understanding as a part of my job. And so I knew I really, really wanted that. And at the same time, I wanted to have discovery and this communication with the new generations. So that kind of put it all in perspective and I said “I know that it’s going to be very hard, but I believe that an academic job is going to be right for me.

“Don’t let being pregnant, or having plans, or anything like that stop you from making these applications, because you never know.

This episode’s resources:

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