At a recent Stemettes panel event, a Student Stemette asked the great question…
What did you want to be when you were in school and how did you end up in your current career?
So we put it to out to women in industry to answer. This is Dr Rebecca Boulton’s STEM journey…
My career aspirations when I was in school were pretty changeable but generally tended to be somewhere between a vet, an archaeologist and a meteorologist. Towards the end of school, I settled on becoming a vet.
Fortunately for me, I didn’t get the grades I needed for vet school. That meant I had to re-think my career options, which took quite a while, but I ended up becoming an evolutionary biologist. Evolutionary biology, funnily enough, combines a lot of the things that I liked about meteorology and archaeology, like looking for patterns in data. Plus, I get to work with loads of different animals, and my research helps us to learn more about them and can even help conservation.
My route to becoming an evolutionary biologist wasn’t straightforward, I started out studying marine zoology at university but after a year of not feeling very enthusiastic about it, I switched to animal behaviour. The change was exactly what I wanted, the focus was not on a particular group of animals, but how all animals behave and how animal behaviour evolves.
After my degree I did a masters, I studied monkeys in Nigeria and Nambia. Around this time I realised as much as I loved watching monkeys, what I loved more was finding out the answers to questions. I worked out that the research projects I had enjoyed the most were the ones where I really wanted to find why or how animals evolved in a certain way. I didn’t need to fly all the way to exotic places to study amazing animals and how they evolved, I could do it anywhere.
Now I study bees in the UK and I am trying to find out what makes queen bees act like queens, and what makes workers bees act like workers.
This piece was written by Dr Rebecca Boulton, Postdoctoral research fellow (Evolutionary biology)
Follow Becky on Twitter: @DrBecky_B