Graduate Profile - Ashleigh Geiger

WiSAN Committee Member

What did you study at University?
Bachelor of Science (Advanced), majoring in Biochemistry and Genetics.

Are you a cat person or dog person
Both! But I currently have three feline fur-kids who keep me on my toes.

Favourite place to eat when in Adelaide
The Salopian Inn at McLaren Vale. Eclectic dining with a focus on local, seasonal produce. Absolutely delicious – and, one of the best gin selections in Adelaide (over 200)!

What drew you to your field?
I’ve always had an interest in medical research and helping others, so this combined with my love for understanding how things work is what drew me to biochemistry and molecular biology. I got my first taste of genome editing during my Summer Research Scholarship program at the end of my second year, and I knew then and there that this was the field I had to be in!

If I could go back to my University days I would…
Join more clubs and societies! Going back to University in my late 20’s, I found it hard to meet like-minded people. It was only in my second year, when I participated in the Women in Stem Careers (WiSC) program, that I connected more strongly with other students and realised what I had been missing out on!

Most prized possession
Probably my cello. Before studying science, I completed an honours degree in classical music. I don’t play as much as I used to, but it is always a joy to pull out my lovely instrument and use my brain differently for a while!

If you could start a charity, what would it be for?
I’ve always said that if I won the lottery, I’d buy a farm somewhere in the country and devote my life to rescuing animals – so, probably a wildlife rescue charity.

What is your greatest career strength?
I’d say my perseverance. When I want something, I am like a dog with a bone!

Something that makes you smile
My niece. She’s an absolute firecracker, and is going to give my sister a real run for her money!

What current fact about your life would most impress your five year old self?
I’d love to say it would be the fact that I hold several university degrees and am on my way to gaining a PhD, but in reality it is probably the amount of fabulous earrings I own 

Something you are grateful for
My lab-mates and friends who constantly inspire me to be a better scientist, and my mentors who work tirelessly to support me in my research and personal goals.

What is your dream role?
I would love to be a group leader or lab head one day, and be responsible for shaping a research program that benefits society and gives young scientists the opportunity to learn and flourish in a supportive, academically exciting environment.

What’s your favourite flower or plant?
My Meyer lemon tree. My grandma grew them, so every time I tend to it or pick lemons it makes me think of her. I am also obsessed with the lush beauty of peonies.

What do you wish someone had told you after you graduated?
Enjoy the break between your undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, because the research student life is very busy! When you’re passionate about what you do, it’s hard to allow yourself downtime, and you can feel guilty for doing nothing. But, breaks are important for your mental and physical health. (Actually, someone probably did tell me that – but I wish I had listened!)

I cannot get through the day without…
COFFEE. Never do the science before coffee.

Three words your closest friends would use to describe you
Persistent, passionate, and perhaps goofy – I love what I do, but I’m determined to have fun whilst I am doing it!

Biggest career highlight/goal
Just to do research that betters someone’s life. If I can make a difference to the wellbeing of even one person, I will be happy.

My goal for this year is…
I took up running recently, and this year I’d like to try a Park Run (5 km) event!

What does your perfect breakfast look like?
I am a non-breakfast eater, but I always smash a double-shot latte before I leave the house for the day. On the weekends, I love a late brunch with loads of veggies!

Best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Being busy is not a badge of honour. It is ok to say no to opportunities, even if they look really exciting, if you don’t have the time or brain space to take them up. On the flipside, be open to opportunities that might not be quite what you expected, and take risks! I studied one science subject just for fun a few years ago – never intending to do anything with it – and now here I am, a molecular biologist pursuing a PhD. You never know what is waiting for you around the corner.