It’s Women’s History month! What better time is there to celebrate the great achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM)? To highlight successful women in STEM we have interviewed some of our very own talented employees. To kick off this series, we have asked our resident immunologist Dr Muriel Breteau some questions. Read below what she has to say.
What does being a woman in STEM mean to you?
I find it very exciting to work in a STEM field, science is so interesting! Apart from my general enthusiasm for science and technology, I strongly believe that someone’s career prospects should not be limited by their gender. I have felt even stronger about this since my niece was born in 2017. I wish to be an example for her of a woman leading a successful career in STEM.
How did you come to be working on this topic/in this field?
My preference for scientific subjects and biology specifically developed while I was at high school. By the time I needed to choose what to do in higher education, I was considering studying to be a vet. My dad, who is a professor at university, helped me to look into other options and I eventually chose to study for a bachelor’s degree followed by a masters’ degree in biology and biotechnology. I then completed a PhD in microbiology but decided at the end of it that academic life was not for me. I joined Dolomite Bio (part of Blacktrace Holdings Ltd) in June 2016 as a Technical Applications Specialist and I have so far thoroughly enjoyed my experience there.
What is the biggest challenge you face as a woman in STEM?
I have never been told, whether at home, at school or at work, that I could not do what I wanted to do because I am a woman. Given how widespread sexism appears to be in STEM fields, I certainly count myself lucky. My positive experience may be partially explained by the fact that biology is a subject that tends to attract as many women as men, as opposed to other STEM disciplines.
Why is your work important?
Dolomite Bio’s products enable scientists to do cutting-edge work in various fields of research such as ageing, plant biology (e.g. for crop improvement) and cancer research. Our technology can also be used to study human immunology and infectious disease progression, two subjects that are particularly relevant at this time of global health crisis. So, I very much feel that my work is important in that respect.
What do you think the future holds for microfluidics and/ or single cell research?
Single-cell methods offer a wealth of information about the diversity of cell populations and biological processes that researchers did not previously have access to when using bulk assays. I therefore expect such methods to become widespread in areas of research where they are not currently commonplace, e.g. the study of micro-organisms. In human health, particularly cancer research, I believe the ability to look at one cell at a time, will lead to the development of personalised medicine, where treatment is finely tuned to suit a patient’s specific needs.
What do you hope the impact of your work will be?
I hope that what I do at Dolomite Bio will support scientists working on the subjects listed above by accelerating their research and enabling rapid innovation.
What’s your favourite part of your job?
I like the problem-solving aspect of my job. Finding a solution, e.g. for a customer that has an issue in the field or when developing a new protocol, and being able to tick a problem off the list is such a satisfying feeling.
Want to learn more about single cell technology? Have a look at our website!
Read the other blog from our women in STEM series:
Or read about our previous researchers spotlight on Dr. Julianne Fischer: