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Women in Science

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Kylie VincentInterview excerpt: Having a stable base of funding helped Kylie get through frustrating times when some of her experiments did not produce the hoped for results.

Was it quite frustrating during that time, you said it took a bit longer than you expected and sounds like there was….

Yeah, there was definitely some frustrating dips where things weren't working. And I think the hardest thing is that people expect you to be publishing all along the way but you've suddenly gone from being a postdoc in an established group where you're obviously, you have quite a big output of publications because there's, everything's set up and you've got lots of students working with you and sort of things are churning along quite quickly to suddenly being all on your own in a fairly bare lab where you're trying to train the students yourself and set up everything and at the same time you're supposed to be continuing to publish. So we had quite a dip in publications for those years and that can be another real difficulty in research careers that at the very time when are trying to prove yourself and to pick up an academic position, permanent position somewhere, you're also having this dip in publications because you're desperately trying to make things work and get things moving.

So I was very lucky that I did pick up the permanent position here at that point so that I could relax a bit and say, “Okay, we could afford to have a bit of a dip in publications and, and get sort of, invest in the future and put this long-term programme in place.” I guess I worked around that by trying to have a few little side projects that were easier that were more likely to work and to make sure that the students who were working with me were getting some results out because it was a bit frustrating for them I guess. It's, it can be a great opportunity for students joining a group with a new PI where, you know, they're going to be really responsible. They're much more, sort of, responsible for making things work themselves because they're not part of an established team but equally it's a bit risky because you might end up with a project that just doesn't work very well.

Luckily things worked pretty well for my first students and they were able to, although it was frustrating, and they'd been through lots of twists and turns and things that hadn't worked they did get good results out in the end and everyone was able to get a good DPhil at the end of it [laughs]. Everyone was happy but it was, yeah there were some moments when it was all a bit scary, of sort of what's working and, you know, we'd sort of, I'd get invited to talk at a conference and I'd think I can't just keep talking about these same few results again or I can't keep talking about what we're going to do, I really want to be able to talk about what we are doing and it took quite a long time before we finally got some new results to be able to say, “Yes, this is what we have done instead of this is what we hope to do in the future.”