An updated interview with Stephanie Rankin-Turner

You can read Stephanie’s first interview here.

Name: Stephanie Rankin-Turner

Current Job: Postdoctoral Research Associate

Scientific Discipline/Field: Analytical chemistry

Country: UK

Pick some letters (L,G,B,T,Q,+, etc.): L

Twitter or other social media handle: @stephrankin2

What does your job involve?

I use mass spectrometry, an analytical technique for measuring and identifying components in a sample, to solve different problems. I’ve had the pleasure of applying mass spec to all kinds of fields of work, including forensics, anti-doping, food chemistry and geochemistry. It’s a very versatile technique!

How did you get to this job (education etc.)?

After studying forensic science at university, I spent a few years working in industry, in the pharmaceutical and forensics sectors. After spending a couple of years working as an analyst in a mass spectrometry lab at a UK university, I simultaneously discovered a love for research and a love for tinkering with mass spectrometers! After that, the rest is history. I pursued a PhD in analytical chemistry, developing new mass spec techniques for forensic applications, and have been continuing postdoctoral research since then.

Do you feel being LGBT has affected your career decisions?

So far being LGBT hasn’t affected my career choices. Being fortunate enough to live in a country with good LGBT rights and protections, I’ve rarely had to consider how being married to a woman might be an issue. Having said that, as I progress through my career and the prospect of moving around the world for work is increasing, I am definitely having to put more thought into the suitability of different countries, whether that’s in terms of safety for LGBT people or more practical aspects such as whether my marriage is recognised for visa purposes.

Have you had any reactions from colleagues about being LGBT, either good or bad?

Reactions from colleagues have been overwhelmingly positive (or in many cases neutral – which is also good). I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve experienced uncomfortable comments, and even then they simply arose from cultural differences. Working in academia gives me the opportunity to work with fantastic scientists from all around the world, including some countries that generally have very different views of LGBT people. I’ve certainly had a couple of challenging conversations in this respect, but nothing I would consider negative.

Did you have any role models growing up (LGBT, STEM, totally unrelated.)?

I didn’t particularly have any role models growing up. Growing up on the Isle of Man (a pretty small island), I didn’t come across scientists other than my school teachers and I certainly didn’t meet many other LGBT people (that I knew of). Fortunately my life is now full of role models!

What are your plans for the future?

I’ve thoroughly loved my career in academic research so far, so I’m gradually moving towards heading my own lab in mass spec research!

Anything else you’d like to add?

Just to extend a big thanks to the people who have taken the time to develop the LGBTSTEM network. I wish I’d known other LGBT scientists when I was starting out, and I’m glad these resources exist now. It’s an incredible community to be a part of, and I’ve had the honour of meeting some fantastic people.

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