In an effort to showcase and amplify the voices of early career researchers in ecology, evolution, and behavior, we are sharing their stories, in their own words.
Dr. Samreen Siddiqui
Post-doctoral Scholar, Oregon State University
Can you give us the rundown on your ECR journey thus far, from what type of undergraduate institution you went to, to your current position?
I got my undergraduate from GBPUAT, Pantnagar, India, and landed in the UK for my first MS degree in Aquatic Ecosystem Management. From there I spent a few years working professionally. Since a 1 year taught MS was not acceptable to enter into a PhD, I needed to redo a MS in biology with focus on ecotoxicology from Valdosta State University, GA. From there I met my PhD advisor at a SETAC Conference and joined Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi (TAMUCC) for my terminal degree. I graduated with my son last summer and am now working as a postdoctoral scholar at Oregon State University.
Can you tell us a bit about your research?
I work with aquatic organisms to study the potential concerns from contaminants of emerging concern including heavy metals, pesticides, pharmaceutical compounds, PFAS compounds and most recently from microplastics including tire wear particles.
What sparked your interest in your field of study?
During the final year of my undergraduate degree, one of the professors in the veterinary college, Dr. AH Ahmed, introduced me to this topic. He is my inspiration. Now that I am working with experts in this field and looking into the topic more closely, it boosts this interest every day.
Outside of research, do you have other scientific interests you are pursuing, like teaching, policy work, or outreach? How do you find opportunities to develop those skills and interests?
Yes, I am interested in teaching and taking my work to policy making and outreach. Outreach is the ultimate goal when it comes to ocean conservation. Every person plays an important role in making it a better place to live. Opportunities are rare, but they are there, one just needs to be very active in searching. One great place to look for them is in scientific societies pages.
How do you approach attending conferences? Do you tend to go to the same one each year or a mix?
I enjoy attending conferences, as it gives you a real sense of science in practice. I attend a mix and have gone to several different ones in the past, but some conferences like the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) is a must, since it is my core field.
What is one piece of advice you would give to an early graduate student?
Always look at science from deep root problem and connect with other scientists working on the area of your thesis/dissertation. It keeps you updated with the ongoing research and current need of science. Attend conferences and present your work whenever possible, since discussing it with other people will help you tailor your work and find answers to many important questions.