Women in Science - Emily Armstrong

I am entering my second year of PhD study, having joined the University in 2015 as a MSc (Res) Student with Prof Amtmann. I'm investigating tissue-specific epigenetic regulation of root system development in model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. Prior to joining the University of Glasgow I had very little hands-on experience outwith lab classes during my Undergraduate degree, which I completed at the University of Essex. My partner and family still live in Essex, meaning I fly down every 6-8 weeks to see them all, which makes scheduling my research somewhat of a military operation.

The research environment here is both immersive and supportive, for both research and science communication activities, from my supervisor through to the Institute's administration. Being here 'alone' means I have ample opportunity to make the most of my work hours, but managing my physical disability still takes a lot of my time. I was born with a genetic connective tissue disorder which causes chronic pain, frequent dislocations, severe joint instability, alongside adrenaline dysfunction and heart problems. Understandably, this complicates research efforts as my work output is wholly dependent on my physical health on any given day. Equally, juggling 8+ hospital appointments per month (at nearly as many hospitals!) compounds the time I actually have in the lab. Balancing hospital, health & PhD studies is no walk in the park, but my colleagues and academic supervisors have been supportive and willing to help at every given opportunity.

I am very privileged to have been surrounded by powerful women in academia and science from within my own family. It was, however, my own experiences with genetics and disease which drove me into biological study. As with all best made plans, I diverted from medical genetics and found myself happily studying plant epigenetics at the University of Glasgow.