Choose To Challenge – Meet the Women of FMS: Paula Salgado

The theme of International Women’s Day this year was #ChooseToChallenge. Here in FMS, we believe strongly in challenging gendered assumptions on working in science. It’s important to celebrate the hard working & powerful women leading our department, who set an example every day of just how much women are capable of. To all fellow women scientists out there: remember to celebrate yourselves everyday!

The sixth interview in our #ChooseToChallenge series is with Paula Salgado, Senior Lecturer and Theme Lead for Molecular Mechanisms of Life Research. Enjoy!

Photo of Paula Salgado, Senior Lecturer and Theme Lead for Molecular Mechanisms of Life Research.

Please describe your role.

I’m Theme Lead for the Molecular Mechanisms of Life Research Theme in the Biosciences Institute, at the Faculty of Medical Sciences and a Senior Lecturer.

What would a normal day look like for you?

At the moment, normal is hard to define and we’re constantly having to adapt to these challenging times.

Currently, a typical day starts with a daily walk to take my son to nursery – it’s an opportunity for some exercise and tends to help charge up my energy for the day. I’ll then have part of the day reserved to Zoom meetings and always try to block time in my diary for teaching and/or research activities.

I will typically have group meetings and one-to-one discussions with my group members at either end of the week, giving them time to carry out experiments and analyse data.

Theme and management related meetings and tasks tend to be carried out throughout the day and week, as needed.

At the moment, I’m preparing a grant application so focusing on reading and writing for a few hours a day – when I can!

How have you found a balance between work and homelife during Covid?

There have been many challenges to balance leadership roles, my research group, teaching commitments and family life during the last year. During lockdown, when nurseries were closed, it was particularly difficult and I had to adapt working hours, focusing on early afternoons and evenings. There has been an impact of COVID in my work, but we have been able to continue our research, thanks to a fantastic group of postdocs and PhD students, a huge thank you to them for their dedication and hard work! Of course, support from colleagues and collaborators is also essential. We all know it’s been a difficult year but together we can continue to do great science and provide a good learning experience for our students.

What does it mean to you being a woman in your role?

Being Theme Lead is an opportunity to create a supportive, nurturing and collaborative research environment. Women in leadership positions face many challenges but we also have an opportunity to affect change and inspire others. We have to continuously work to make our working environments inclusive and fair and I hope I can contribute as Theme Lead to make this a daily reality.

A massive thank you to Paula for taking the time to talk to us.

Newcastle University is committed to developing careers for all colleagues, with some great success stories of women who have developed full and rewarding careers across the institution.  Historically we have supported specific women into leadership programmes such as the Aurora programme and the Women in academia – coaching and mentoring (WiCAM) programme in collaboration with Durham University, alongside broader coaching and mentoring opportunities.  As part of the university commitment to this agenda, work is currently underway to review our development offerings with a view to launching a refreshed offer in the autumn to ensure we have the right support in place.

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