Name: Dr. Melissa Trotman-Lucas, PhD
Hometown: Nottingham, England, UK
Current Position: Research Fellow, University of Nottingham, UK
Q: What made you interested in a career in stroke?
A: As an undergraduate at the University of Leicester, I studied biological sciences. A significant part of this course involved an in-depth look at brain function and, conversely, its dysfunction. I enjoyed thinking about cellular physiology and how functioning is impacted following the smallest of changes. When [there was] a PhD opportunity to study the role of excitotoxicity in the pathological damage that occurs following ischemic stroke, I was excited to investigate this and better understand it. A close family member of mine had suffered multiple strokes, so I knew the impact this debilitating disease could have on an individual, but also to the surrounding family. So, for me, to work even in the smallest way towards improving treatment and recovery for stroke sufferers was of a keen interest for me.
Q: What has been your career path into this field?
A: I obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Sciences at the University of Leicester, where the final focus for me was on cell physiology and pharmacology, particularly neuroscience, alongside understanding the infection and the role of the immune system. Following on from this, I took on a position as a serology laboratory technician at an industry establishment. Here I worked testing samples for the presence of viruses and diseases for clients. After a year, I decided industry was not for me and looked back towards academia, applying for a PhD position back at the University of Leicester with Professor Robert Fern and Professor Claire Gibson, studying the role of NMDA and ATP receptors in the cellular damage that occurs following ischemia in the brain. Since completing my PhD, I have worked on several research projects utilizing preclinical stroke models, working as a post-doctoral researcher on grants from the NC3Rs and the Henry Smith Charity, still largely focusing on NMDA targeting. In addition to this, I have worked to help improve reproducibility within a model of preclinical stroke, later travelling to train other researchers in the model refinement.
Q: Who is your stroke mentor or stroke hero?
A: There is only one stroke hero for me, my great uncle Len. He battled through multiple strokes, persevering through the restrictive physical impairments they left him with, some temporary and some permanent. He was always cheery and pleased to see you, battling along.
Q: What is a piece of advice you would give to a trainee?
A: My best piece of advice for a PhD student in neuroscience research, or any research for that matter, would be to surround yourself with like-minded people as a network of support. People who you can not only discuss your workload with, but also have a laugh with and be able to engage in non-research discussions. Making sure to take the time to pull your mind away from the often overwhelming amount of work or possibly those negative results you may be getting.
Q: What is your favorite hobby or way of de-stressing?
A: There are a couple of things in my spare time that I enjoy to unwind, one being to take my dog out for walks in rural spaces, taking the time to breathe in the fresh air and rest my mind. The other thing is listening to audiobooks during my commute. This helps to switch my mind from work mode into home mode, thinking about the storyline and the characters, rather than the long to-do list waiting for me back in the lab and at my desk.
Q: What is your favorite place to travel to?
A: My favorite place to travel within the UK is Cornwall. I absolutely love the coastline — it’s rugged and beautiful, transfixing you. The small fishing villages and towns can take you back to another time. Earlier this year, I took a trip to Japan, exploring both Tokyo and Yokohama. These cities, Tokyo in particular, are unlike any other I’ve travelled to. Leaving Japan firmly at the top of my travel list, I wish to explore the more rural areas and look closer in on Japanese traditions and culture.