Graduate Profile - Sophie Dolling

WiSAN Committee member

What did you study at University?
Bachelor of Science (Marine Biology) with a major in Chemistry, Bachelor of Science (Ecology and Environmental Science)(Honours), Doctor of Philosophy in Biological Sciences.

Are you a cat person or dog person
Dog person 100%!

Favourite place to eat when in Adelaide
Sunny’s Shop in Prospect, Sean’s Kitchen in the city, Tony Tomatoes in North Adelaide, and I am also a sucker for a good pub feed so can’t go past The Feathers Hotel in Burnside.

What drew you to your field?
I have always enjoyed sciences and was always drawn to the unknowns of the natural world, in particular our marine environment.. but I had no idea how to make a career out of that. After trying another degree and realising early on that it wasn’t for me, I went for my childhood dream of Marine Biology. And the rest is history!

If I could go back to my University days I would…
I’d definitely put myself out there a bit more in my undergrad years. There are so many amazing opportunities for internships and volunteers that I would’ve loved to have done, I think I was just a bit too shy at the time. I would also ask for help a lot more instead of stressing myself out when I didn’t fully grasp a concept.

Most prized possession
Does a dog count as a possession? My family dog Jack is my pride and joy!

If you could start a charity, what would it be for?
I would love to start a charity focussed around plastic pollution and including more education around the harmful impacts at the school level. I know organisations like this already exist, but highlighting the hidden impacts of plastic pollution is extremely important. Getting young minds thinking about innovative ways that we can curb this problem is ultimately how we are going to tackle it in the future.

What is your greatest career strength?
Determination. Working in research can be a bit of a rollercoaster sometimes but I think through the rough patches I am pretty good at persevering and getting the job done.

Something that makes you smile
Diving, snorkelling, paddle boarding. Pretty much anything in the ocean.

What current fact about your life would most impress your five year old self?
That I am actually a Marine Biologist! It was always that thing I said I wanted to do when I was little. Back then I thought it meant becoming an actual mermaid, but I think 5 year old me would be pretty proud of the research I am doing.

Something you are grateful for
Being surrounded by family, friends and a partner who support everything I do. The education I have received. Having wonderful female role models in my lab group.

What is your dream role?
A role where I can combine my love of learning and educating all at once. Somewhere that I can continue to have impactful research, but also inspire the next generation of scientists.

What’s your favourite flower or plant?
I love my fiddle leaf fig, even though it doesn’t always love me.

What do you wish someone had told you after you graduated?
That it is okay to finish a degree and not completely understand what kind of career that is going to lead you in. The path of a scientist is anything but linear, so enjoy the ride and take on any opportunities that come up. Even if it is a bit left field!

I cannot get through the day without…
A cup of tea and my favourite news podcast in the morning.

Three words your closest friends would use to describe you
Driven, resilient, empathetic.

Biggest career highlight/goal
Finding a PhD project that combined both of my interests; marine science and chemistry. I was given a few strange looks when I decided to major in both areas in my undergraduate degree, but it seems the combination is paying off!

My goal for this year is…
To continue presenting and communicating my work in any way I can. What good is science if we don’t share it?

What does your perfect breakfast look like?
Anything with eggs and hollandaise, oh and haloumi… and can’t forget avocado. I’m never going to own a house…

Best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Everyone is on their own timeline, running their own race. There is no point in comparing yourself to anyone else, your time will come.