Rachel Buckley

Rachel Buckley, Postdoctoral Fellow
Harvard University

Life Inside the Lab:

What is your research topic? Early prediction of Alzheimer’s disease dementia

Buckley_1Rachel Buckley is a Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard University. Follow her science on Twitter at @bucklr01.

What was your best day of science? Winning my first small project grant from an idea that I created and developed was one of my proudest moments – there was a small awards ceremony that I got to take my fiancé too, and it was so great to share my achievement with him. My other was getting to share my PhD graduation day with my family, fiancé and supervisor – what a proud day that was!

What was your worst day in science? I’ve had a few. One that sticks out in my mind is a terrible politicking moment, when a very senior researcher (and important person in my field) forced me to put my funding through their department rather than my own by threatening to jeopardize my fledgling career. No early career researcher should have to go through that sort of stress – I strongly believe that young researchers should be fostered as much as possible to thrive and then ultimately give back to the research community that supported them.

What is your favorite piece of technology or equipment you get to use in your job? R!!!! God, I love R – it has changed my life. Happy to teach anyone who wants to learn it.

Life Outside of Lab

Where did you grow up? All over the world – Australia, the UK, Malaysia, Japan, and the Netherlands.

What profession did you think you would be when you were a kid? A chemical engineer like my dad (when I was a child), and then a pharmacist, and then a medical doctor.

What do you do to relax outside of lab? Mainly hanging out with Michael (my partner). But a very close second is eating (at home or in restaurants – I’m addicted to food), I watch a lot of TV, I cook and bake A LOT, I knit, and I exercise. When I was at home in Melbourne, I used to love walking the family dog. I also love to go for long drives on the weekend when I get the chance. I listen to an insane amount of podcasts.

Do you have any fun hobbies? I would say all of point 7 are my hobbies. I’m particularly fond of baking and knitting. I make a mean treacle pudding.

Do you have any pets? My family dog is a miniature schnauzer (Lily) and I love and miss her very much.Buckley_2

If you want to talk about your family, what is your family life? How did your family develop alongside your career? I live with my partner, Michael, and that’s it. My family live all over the world, but I see them as much as I can during the summer and Christmas time. Michael and my family have always been an incredible support to me during my PhD and now in my postdoc. I’m contemplating having children now, but I still feel I need to establish myself a bit before I feel comfortable throwing myself in that deep end.

Big Picture

What is your best advice for girls interested in science? Just throw yourself in! Develop a nice group of friends at uni, so that you can share your stresses and achievements together. I also found I learned a LOT more in study groups than by myself. Also, don’t be afraid to talk to lecturers in the department. They LOVE to talk about their work. Build up your knowledge and your connections!

Is there any one event or person who/that made you want to be a scientist? Prof Michael Saling from the University of Melbourne. He’s just amazing.

Why were your drawn to science? Did you ever consider another career path? I fell into science – I have a lot of interests and science didn’t jump out at me as an interest until I literally fell into a PhD. Even during the PhD, I wasn’t entirely sure. While I love science, and I thrive on data analysis and networking, I’m sure I would just as well enjoy a lot of other disciplines and jobs. I will continue on this path for now, but who knows where I’m headed in the future!

What was your biggest challenge during your degree? Trying to juggle a full time job and the PhD at the same time. I somehow managed, but I felt I was torn in many directions at multiple times. Then again, it was good to have something else going on in my life that was going somewhere, because the PhD involves a lot of nothing (and setbacks).

What was your biggest motivation to obtain your PhD? Pure determination. I just knew I had to stick it out to finish it. I needed to get a job!


What is your favorite book? Life after Life (or anything Kate Atkinson)

What is your favorite desk snack? Nothing – I usually drink a lot of hot water though (weird)

What would you listen to while writing? 90s pop hits

What color socks are you wearing? Grey

Any other fun facts about you: I was a runner up in a karaoke championship.

Follow Rachel on Twitter @bucklr01.

This is a study that I’ve just started running, and that I’m very proud of: healthybrainproject.org.au