Domenica Berardi

STEM Equals Profiles - Domenica Berardi

Tell us a little bit about you:

I am a PhD student at Strathclyde University, in SIPBS department. I was born into a farmer family, as such I have developed a high interest for several activities on which my father worked, especially the production of wine and the cultivation of grapes.

What is your area of research and what project(s) are you working on now?

My research area is geroscience, or ageing research. My project focuses on investigating the ageing processes at the metabolic level. The aim is to shed light on unanswered questions like: Why and how do we age? These questions are crucial to understanding the big enigma of life.

When was your interest in STEM/your field first sparked and why?

My interest in STEM started when I was young (13 years old), with a particular interest in the study of Biology. Then, during my Master’s I discovered the field of Metabolomics, which I started to explore in cancer cells. When I realized how many similar features there are between cancer and aged cells, at the metabolic level, I reckoned that maybe first understanding the age-metabolic changes could be the key to next understanding the cancer-metabolic changes.

Who or what inspired you to stick with STEM when you were younger?

It was my passion for nature, which then become curiosity for human life, that guided me through this course of studies aimed to understand the mechanisms that could strengthen the body and extend life.

What challenges do you think STEM disciplines face with regards to issues of diversity and inclusion and what should a supportive, inclusive STEM community look like?

TI think age is a challenge that STEM disciplines currently face. Many people think that STEM skills may be a prerogative of the young. Sometimes this general idea inhibits adults' ambition to start these studies. However, in my opinion STEM disciplines are accessible to everyone at any time. An inclusive STEM community should be welcoming of all, not only in terms of gender and ethnicity, but also in terms of age.

In your career, what are the moments that have made you proudest so far?

Any small progress in understanding human life is something to be proud of. Whenever I was in front of something which I had never seen before (for example a tiny detail of a metabolic process), it was very satisfying for me.

Since STEM career paths are rarely easy to navigate, what challenges have you faced along the way?

Competition is sometimes nasty in STEM - it should be productive not destructive. Additionally, although gender diversity has changed in the last decade, sexism is, unfortunately, something that I have faced during my course of studies.

Where do you find support to sustain you in your current career?

I find support in myself, my passions, and my determination.

What advice would you give to a young person considering a career in STEM?

To a young/adult person considering a career in STEM for the first time, I would recommend having strong ambitions.

Fun question: Tell us two truths and a lie about you.

a) I once got lost with my bike on a freeway. b) I once participated in a competition with my quad. c) won that competition.