Dr Kirsty MacLeod is an MSCA Individual Fellow at Lund University working in the field of ecology and evolution. She is interested in how individuals interact with one another and their environment, how those interactions affect physiology and behaviour, and how this contributes to evolution. Within her MSCA project EGERNIALIZARDS, she is currently researching how being social helps to shield lizards from the effects of stress.
What prompted you to pursue a career as a researcher?
I was interested in the natural world and being outdoors since I was very young – a biology degree offered an opportunity to explore my curiosity in ecology and the environment and spend time outside! I quickly realised that I loved the research process too, which led me to pursue a PhD and a career in academia.
What are the achievements (both professional and personal) you are most proud of?
Being awarded an MSCA fellowship for a project that I conceived and designed has been by far my biggest achievement. I’m also really proud of my podcast – starting a podcast to highlight women in science was a dream for a long time.
What have been the biggest challenges during your professional experience, if any?
I’ve experienced a lot of rejection – I applied for a lot of grants and jobs that I didn’t get, and it was hard to keep believing that something would work out. I’ve also spent a lot of time living apart from my partner when we were both in academic jobs in different countries. Those times were ultimately worth it, but tough at the time.
I’d advise young women to seek out role models to provide inspiration when things get tough!
How has the MSCA impacted your life?
Hugely – it’s given me the chance to carry out a project that will answer questions I’ve been interested in for a long time, while developing an amazing network of international collaborators, and honing my skills in evolutionary endocrinology. I have no doubt that it’s also made me much more competitive in the job market.
How would you spark a girl’s interest in science? What advice would you give to young women wishing to embark on a career as a researcher?
We need to challenge the stereotypes of what sort of person belongs in science! With my podcast, I am providing diverse role models to show that women in science are fun, they have other interests and hobbies, and that we all experience things like rejection and self-doubt. I’d advise young women to seek out role models to provide inspiration when things get tough!