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Work/Life is Stylist’s regular column about the professional routines of successful women. Here, Dr Emilie Pondeville talks us through her one-day diary, from morning latte to lights out. 

Dr Emilie Pondeville is a research scientist at the MRC University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research. She lives in Glasgow with her partner and two children.

My alarm goes off…

At 7.30am. I make a cup of coffee for myself, before making my daughters’ breakfasts – they’re seven and 10 – and getting them ready for school. For work, I usually dress casually in jeans and trainers unless I’m speaking at a conference. I change into my lab coat at work.

I’m responsible for… 

Leading a team of six research scientists studying mosquito biology and mosquito-borne viruses, including zika, malaria and yellow fever. I oversee their projects and am responsible for ensuring we are making an important contribution to science.

I got the job… 

By studying biology at at the Paris University. As part of my degree, I did a placement in a lab investigating mosquito reproduction and decided to stay there for my PhD. 

To be honest, I think it was because of my partner, who was my supervisor at the time. I was already in love and I wanted to be around him; we got together soon after. Then, I took up a position at the Institut Pasteur developing genetic tools for working with mosquitos.

Four years ago, we moved to Glasgow where I have been involved in developing the CVR’s virus and mosquito interaction programme and lead a research programme. I felt like the job was made for me.

Emilie oversees a team of six scientists researching mosquito biology.

My typical day… 

Begins with me arriving at my desk at 9am. I go through emails and have another coffee. Then, I’ll go and say hello to my team in the lab and we’ll discuss their progress. 

These days, I’m ‘at the bench’ myself less and less, which is the term we use for conducting lab experiments. Each member of my team has their own project but overall, we are working to make the mosquitos resistant to viruses so they don’t catch them and pass them on to humans. An experiment takes around two months to see results, and we have about 5,000 mosquitos in the lab every week.

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Afterwards, I’ll do some paperwork – there is so much involved as a research scientist. I could be applying for funding or gaining authorisation to use a certain virus from the institute or even the government.

I stop for lunch at about 1pm – it’s usually a sandwich at my desk. Afterwards, I’ll work on a paper. I’m currently working on four that are nearing submission to a scientific journal. I leave at about 5.30pm.

An experiment will take around two months to see results. 

My most memorable moment…

Was the first time I had a paper accepted by a journal, about the transfer of hormones in mosquitos. I’ve had many since, but there’s nothing like the first.

The worst part of my job… 

Is the highs and lows. One day you can be on top of the world because an experiment has worked, and the next you can feel depressed because you don’t get the result you wanted.

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The best part of my job…

Is having the chance to discover new things.

After work…

I help the kids with their homework. Then, my partner will cook dinner – something simple like fish – and we’ll watch some French TV. It’s relaxing to hear and speak French at home; your brain can stop working so hard. Bedtime is really irregular – sometimes I’m so tired it’s 9pm, other times it can be 1am.

Images: Julie Howden 

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Hannah Keegan

Hannah Keegan is the features writer at Stylist magazine.

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