I’m A Scientist Profile: Haylo Roberts

It’s time for another I’m A (Featured) Scientist. I am delighted to introduce Haylo Roberts. Haylo is an early-stage PhD student that I’ve followed on Instagram for some time now, and genuinely love the posts – mainly science related, but with an aspect into Haylo’s personal life too. It’s really a great opportunity to learn more about the people working in science – we are all different, but very much the same.

Without further ado, I introduce to you, Haylo.

I'm A Scientist - Haylo Roberts feature scientist profile picture

Tell us a bit about yourself

My name is Haylo, and I’m a PhD candidate completing my studies in Melbourne, Australia. My work focusses on the genomics of parasitic nematodes affecting huge populations in Sub-Saharan Africa and central America. When I’m not in the lab or analysing data, I am gaming, making music, or tending to my many animals. I am an avian enthusiast and take pride in my little flock.  I am transgender, and an activist. My activism is mainly centred around equal rights across all genders and orientations, both in STEM and in every other facet or our lives. I am visibly transitioning whilst doing my PhD, and to see how that may look you can check out my Instagram.

How would you describe yourself in three words.

Curious, animal lover, and musician.

What are you currently working on/what are your scientific interests?

My scientific interests are mainly in infectious disease and sustainability. I am a microbiologist and a biochemist, and have previously worked in virology. Currently I am undertaking my PhD in parasitic nematode genomics. I look at a bacterial endosymbiont that lives within these nematodes and may be responsible for pathologies that people experience when infected with the nematodes.

What do you like most about science/being a scientist?

Science gives me the ability to help people and/or animals, maybe even on a large scale one day. Science is all about coming together and solving problems, and I love that.

Who is your scientific inspiration?

Ben Barres, he was the first transgender scientist that I ever learnt about. He spent his life showing people that women, and lgbtq+, people are more than capable of being in STEM.  He took a break from science to transition, and when he came back as Ben and wrote a paper – a reviewer said that Ben’s work was much better than his sister, Barbara’s, without knowing that they were in fact the same person. Ben spent his life highlighting these gender differences in STEM whilst also contributing substantial findings to the understanding of certain neurons. 

What keeps you going day to day?

My pets and loving family. Being transgender usually comes with a serve of comorbid depression, as is the case with me. Self care is so vital for me, and most people, to be able to go day to day. So I take my time, I know my limits, and I don’t push myself to hard, because if I burn out it could have a terrible effect on my mental health.

Name three things you can’t live without/keep you motivated.

My pets, music, and my partner. These things keep my spirits up even when all my experiments are failing.

What are your longer-term career aspirations?

To work on either infectious disease, or environmental microbiology, and use my science to help make the world a better place.

What is the most pertinent piece of advice you would give to someone just starting out in science (e.g. new PhD student)?

Accept that science sometimes just doesn’t work. If I were to blame myself every time an experiment goes wrong, I wouldn’t be able to continue in science. Science is about patience, about chasing those results and overcoming hurdles. Science is more a marathon than what the montages in sci-fi films would have you believe. So pace yourself, and be kind to yourself.

Be sure to follow Haylo on Instagram: @aqueerscientist

If you are interested in answering a few questions and contributing to the IAS community either by writing content or becoming a featured scientist, get in touch!

I’m A Scientist Profile: Haylo Roberts
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