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- Name: Louise Corscadden, PhD
- Location: Mexico City, Mexico
- H-index: 2
Hello! Who are you and what are you working on?
Hi, I’m Louise, I joined ConductScience last year as the Director of Science and Development and have been helping scientists with their projects ever since. Previous to this position, I completed a Ph.D. in microbial genetics and atmospheric chemistry at the University of Leicester, UK, a master’s in medical microbiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK, and a bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Sciences from St George’s University of London, UK.
What’s your backstory?
I started my Ph.D. thinking I wanted a career in academics but halfway through the Ph.D. I realized that I didn’t want to be a professor so I started looking for careers outside of academics. I had been looking for a position within the biotechnology industry for a while but had no luck. This was during the 2020 portion of the pandemic and the job search was difficult. Despite the perceptions, it can be difficult for a Ph.D. to find a job afterward, particularly in transitioning out of academics as Ph.D.’s lack business experience and acumen.
Luckily for me, I had an opportunity with a Harvard ilab start-up, which needed a Scientific Director. This start-up turned out to be ConductScience.
From this experience, I would urge PhDs in my previous position to realize the importance of networking and just being friendly and engaging, not just at seminars, conferences, and in work settings but in life in general.
Describe the process of transitioning into your position
PhDs and academics live in a bubble and starting a position at a start-up was certainly an awakening to the world that I had been comfortably separated from. Transitioning from an academic background was a learning curve. I think having a supportive team is essential and is something to consider and ask about during any job interviews. The organization is at the core of my work and I feel it’s important to have a system in place when you start your new position and constantly adapt it to suit your requirements.
I think the age-old advice “don’t be afraid to ask for help” is important but rarely heeded. When asking for help with a project or task, perhaps show how you think the project should progress and your opinion to show you have taken the initiative to consider vital decisions while ensuring that others agree.
I would suggest to academics wanting to transition to biotechnology and life science industries that they should start looking into how the industry works, news related to their desired industry, business terms, and acumen. If you can find a way to show potential employers and desired companies that you have knowledge and experience within the industry on top of your academic education, that’s even better. Look for opportunities in the subjects of entrepreneurship, biotechnology, etc. An example I have is Biotechnology Yes, a British entrepreneurship competition for Ph.D. students.
Describe the process of learning, iterating, and creating in your position
Our clients are at the forefront of our learning and creating processes. I often meet with our customers to talk about their projects in terms of what they are trying to achieve and the hardware and software they need. I have had interesting requests in the past such as mazes for mini-pigs and large aggressive lizards. A lot of our creativity comes from “what can we do to help make this project happen?” as each experimental protocol is different and has specific needs. We always try to provide a customized solution to our customers.
Furthermore, much of the content we provide through articles on protocols, techniques, stories, and social media (see below) is either requested by clients, complements our products, is vital to understanding the scientific process, or are upcoming subjects in scientific research.
Since launch, what has worked to make your project grow/successful?
Supply and Demand. Being able to adapt to change is important at a start-up as projects are broad in the topic and change regularly. We take customer requests and feedback seriously. What are our customers requesting? We also look at trends in science and biotechnology, what techniques are newly developed or being used at the moment? A good example is the requests we’ve had for technology transfer, so we created InventionUp, our technology transfer program to help scientists bring their inventions to market.
We also look at what similar companies to us are doing as a little competition is healthy after all.
How is everything going nowadays, and what are your plans for the future?
It’s a new year and we definitely have some resolutions and new projects at ConductScience. Last year, I spent a lot of time focusing on procuring new products such as antibodies and chemical reagents. This year, we are focusing more on our social media accounts increasing our activity on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Linkedin. We are expanding and promoting our services product line too.
What is your Morning Routine (The first 2 hours of your day)?
I tend to wake up at 8:30 am and make breakfast and tea (a British essential). I answer emails first and check my calendar and task schedule. I like to highlight priority tasks to complete first and start with smaller tasks such as social media management to start.
How does a typical day look for you?
I like to have meetings in the mornings but sometimes I have to make meetings in the afternoons for European or Asian clients. As mentioned, I start with smaller tasks in the morning and finish them quickly so I can spend time in the afternoon on longer tasks such as content writing (this story included).
What does your workstation look like?
Being remote means my workstation varies, which is great. I usually start the day at my desk in my room, it’s quite plain at the moment but I make sure I have stationary and anything else I need close to hand. I usually migrate to the living room later in the day and sometimes go to coffee shops and have a beverage treat while I work.
What platform/tools do you use for your professional life?
The tools I usually work with day-to-day include:
- Google Mail, Sheets, Docs (I also use this to organize my tasks), Slides, and Calendar (for my meetings)
- Active Campaign
- Calendly connected to Zoom and Google Meets for my meetings
- Social media: Linkedin, Instagram, Facebook (including Facebook Business manager), and Twitter
What secondary software and apps do you use daily?
While I’m working, I usually listen to podcasts and simple videos on a huge range of subjects using PocketCasts or Youtube. I have a subscription to HeadSpace that I certainly need to use more.
How do you stay up to date on news and resources?
Because I update our Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Linkedin accounts daily, I stay up-to-date on science-related news using websites such as ScientificAmerican.com, ScienceNews.org, etc. I have subscriptions to magazines such as Time, Focus, and National Geographic using Kindle Unlimited.
What have been the most influential podcasts, or other resources?
Podcasts I recommend for a better understanding of entrepreneurship and business include:
- Planet Money
- All-in Podcast
- The diary of a CEO
Podcasts for life in general:
- Global News Podcast
- The Happiness Lab
- Ten Percent Happier
- This is love
- Welcome to Nightvale
- Fall of Civilisations
- The Missing Cryptoqueen
- Noble Blood
What tools do you use in your personal life? Cook? Self Care?
I love to cook a wide range of different cuisines and make things such as sewing my own clothes. I think having a creative outlet is very important, particularly for those in highly technical fields such as life sciences. I go to pottery classes every Friday too. To keep fit, I like to go to the gym every day and do weights or cardio. I usually go bouldering on Sundays.
To wind down at night, I like to read (fiction) or use my Headspace app.
Advice for other scientists who want to get started or are just starting out?
From everything I’ve said above, for those wanting to transition out of academics, I recommend:
- Learning and getting experience in your chosen sector where possible before finishing your PhD
- Network in and out of your circles in both a professional and personal way, you never know what opportunities could arise
- Plans rarely actually go to plan, that’s ok, it’s how you adapt that is important
Where can we go to learn more?
My Linkedin is /in/louiseccorscadden/
My Google Scholar link is here
ConductScience’s social media accounts are: