Knowledge for a sustainable world

Dr/Professor Deborah Rees

Principal Scientist, Reader in Plant Physiology

Why or how did you get into science?

I have always been more interested in science than the arts. For me the question was whether to go for basic or applied science. Fairly early on, I realised I was more interested in the application of science.

Debbie 1Did anyone in particular influence you?

A group of cell biologists during my first year of a general Natural Sciences Degree who organised such a stunning module that I switched from being a physicist to cell biology.

What is your particular field and how did you choose it, or did it choose you?

I am a postharvest biologist. Basically, I just wandered around from subject to subject and ended up here. However, it is always the application of science that is important to me, so not a bad place to be.

What advice would you give to other young women reading this who are thinking of pursuing a career in science

Debbie 2Firstly, a scientific career can be followed as an academic or in industry. One disadvantage of the academic/higher education sector is that in the current funding climate a lot of effort has to go into applying for funding. This can be an interesting challenge, but if it is a challenge you don’t relish, go into industry. Secondly, anyone, man or woman, who wants to have a career and a family has to make decisions on priority setting. Accept that there are times when you should put relationships and family ahead of career. Be honest with yourself and accept this – unless you really want to put career ahead of everything.

Is there anything you wish you had done differently in your career so far?

The list is too long. Lots of regrets, but the journey has been interesting and fun.

Debbie 3What does the significance of this, the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, day mean to you?

I see it as a good gesture, although, of course the real issue is whether women are treated fairly throughout their careers.

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