Woman on The Rise: Leigh Nicholson, PhD Candidate at Sydney University

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Leigh Nicholson ImageMeet Leigh Nicholson, one of four Women on the Rise winners who will be flying to San Francisco this fall for a week-long educational journey!

Leigh is completing her PhD in cellular and gynecological oncology at Sydney University, Australia. She is particularly interested in how technological and software advancements influence the future of biological research. To share her latest research, Leigh occasionally writes for publications about science and tech.

Keep up with Leigh on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Tell us a little about yourself. What are you up to these days?

I’m currently studying my Doctorate in cellular and reproductive biology at Sydney University, Australia, and my research at the moment is focused mainly on endometrial cancer. I have a background in general molecular biology, but want to get involved in the application of tech in the future of medicine. I am starting research in the use of 3D printing and biopolymers to create materials mimicking the internal human geometry for growing cells. But I am also particularly interested in the rise of biotech startups which develop software and applications for medical diagnosis or artificial protein synthesis. This is something I would love to explore further after my PhD.

When I’m not in the lab, I sometimes write freelance articles for papers or play video games with my cats.

How did you find out about the Women on the Rise Program? What inspired you to apply?

I have been attending a lot of different General Assembly courses lately to try and learn more about the other side of tech startups, as I never really got the chance to learn these things in my undergraduate degree. I found out about the program either at one of the courses or online and thought it would be a great opportunity to meet people who have paved their own way in some area of the startup phenomena. I am a very vocal advocate for diversity in STEM fields and thought it would be amazing to meet and speak with some of the women in leading tech companies.

What are you most excited for during your week in San Francisco?

Apart from just meeting and talking with incredible people in the field, I am also really looking forward to attending the Startup Summit at the Dreamforce conference. I’ve never been to any tech related conferences or summits before, and it’s pretty awesome that this will be my first.

What do you hope to gain from the experience?

Everything I possibly can. I’m excited to meet people in the leading companies of this area, as well as those who are just starting to build their own business and offer new information and experiences. I’m also just generally excited to visit Silicon Valley, because, obviously…

Why is empowering women to pursue tech important to you

I think that despite the increase in awareness and discussion around diversity in STEM fields, there is still a strong culture of these areas, tech especially, being a ‘boys club’ and that this culture is contributing to the deterrent of women from tech. If you’re encouraging an industry to ignore half the population, then that’s just a pretty debilitating waste of talent.

Want another chance to go to San Francisco? Win a trip to the Lean Startup Conference in November.

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