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The toxic and wondrous world of academia with Science Sisters

The toxic and wondrous world of academia with Science Sisters

Good morning, dear readers, this is your editor-in-chief speaking. We are currently experiencing some difficulties in academia, but we ask you to stay calm and remain in your seats with the seatbelt fastened. In the event of loss of pressure, make sure to publish your own paper first (to increase the pressure on your peers).

Yes, it’s me! Your favourite (and only) editor-in-chief! And because running this blog for you is not time consuming enough as it is, I decided at the beginning of 2021 to start my own youtube channel. I know, I was shocked too. Besides cringy sketches depicting the joys of academic life and questionable vlogs on life as a postdoc, I have also made the interview series ‘Science Sisters’. Lighthearted in tone, it explores different career paths, academic life, and soft skills and addresses current issues in academia by engaging with a set of diverse guests (with a focus on – but not limited to – women in science). See it as a supershort seminar where you won’t fall asleep. Hopefully. It really is meant to be guilt-free, entertaining procrastination to make you laugh and maybe you’ll accidentally learn something in the process.

Season 1 is now fully published and this blog post is a summary of the entire season. I’m looking for guests for the second season, so if you fancy having a chat with me – make sure to send me an e-mail!

If you like this series and would like to support this project, please make sure to subscribe and like the videos! It would help me out a lot (and would make me feel less guilty about spending time on this, while I also have … you know … a postdoc to work on).

Ethical fieldwork with Thirze Hermans

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In this first episode of Science Sisters, Thirze Hermans (postdoc at the University of Leeds) and I try to talk about ethical fieldwork, but quickly drift towards the politics of knowledge, the integration of social and physical sciences, and the fact that we shouldn’t forget scientists are humans. Also, we discuss whether or not I cheated my way through uni and Thirze reveals the biggest regret of her PhD.

Switching careers with Leah-Nani Alconcel

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In this episode of Science Sisters, Leah-Nani Alconcel (lecturer at the University of Birmingham) and I try to figure out how she managed to successfully switch careers from being a postdoc in physical chemistry to being a spacecraft engineer, working on missions such as Cluster, Cassini and JUICE, and later from being an engineer back to being a full-time academic. Also, we discuss how being a woman and ethnic minority in science can impact your career and how you can (attempt to) deal with that.

Science communication with Simon Clark

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In this episode of Science Sisters, Simon Clark (content creator, author) and I talk about the loaded decision to leave academia when you find out it isn’t for you and the many ways in which you can do science communication and how to do it well. How long does it take to write a book for example? Do you need a good strategy before you start writing? And how exactly do you make the youtube algorithm ignore you completely? Also, Simon talks me into an existential crisis during a particularly passionate monologue on doing what makes you happy.

Postdoc life with Tamarah King

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In this episode of Science Sisters, Tamarah King (postdoc at Oxford University) and I talk about how we managed to land our current postdoc jobs, what it is like to do a postdoc, and how terribly incompetent we feel all of the time. Also, we discuss the typical image of a ‘scientist’ and wonder whether it is possible for a scientist to have a personality.

Leadership with Richard Ghail

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In this episode of Science Sisters, Richard Ghail (professor at Royal Holloway, University of London) and I talk about the new space mission EnVision to Venus on which Rich is the lead scientist. How do you start with planning a space mission? How do you actually make sure that it gets flown? How big is the team? How long does this process take? In answering these questions, we particularly look at how you can effectively manage a large, interdisciplinary team and what constitutes a good leader. Also, we talk about the ridiculous notion of Venus being a female planet and wonder if there could be life on Venus…

Women in science with Diana Avadanii

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In this episode of Science Sisters, Diana Avadanii (PhD student at the University of Oxford) and I talk about what it is like to be women in science. Get ready for some juicy gossip about weird work relationships, the potential difficulty of doing fieldwork as a woman (where do you pee?!), and the micro-aggressions one might encounter. Also, we talk about the reality of moving country and the difference between being a temporary expat and actually emigrating for life.

Job applications with Paula Koelemeijer

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In this episode of Science Sisters, Paula Koelemeijer (research fellow at Royal Holloway, University of London) and I talk about how to get one of those mythical fellowships and how you can use them to set yourself up in academia by (dare I say it?) obtaining a *whispers* permanent position. We discuss how to write a proposal, get a research idea, and how to prepare for your interview. Also, we talk about combining motherhood with a busy academic career.

And once again for the people in the back ( / the people that actually made it this far into the post): If you like this series and would like to support this project, please make sure to subscribe and like the videos! It would help me out a lot (and would make me feel less guilty about spending time on this, while I also have … you know … a postdoc to work on).

Original art & music for Science Sisters created by Lucía Pérez-Díaz.

Iris is a postdoc at the German Aerospace Center in Berlin, Germany. Her current research revolves around modelling Venus. Previous projects concerned subduction dynamics and the associated seismic and tsunami hazards. Iris is Editor-in-chief of the GD blog team. You can reach Iris via email. For more details, please visit Iris' personal webpage or check out her youtube channel: youtube.com/irisvanzelst.


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