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Having a family and becoming a parent shouldn’t affect your career in science, says #ScienceMama Becca Calisi.
Becca Calisi is an assistant professor at UC Davis, California, where she runs a lab studies how the environment affects the brain, behaviour and health.
She has one 6 year old daughter, who arrived whilst she was a postdoc at UC San Diego, and a 1 year old son who arrived whilst she had her permanent position at UC Davis. In between that she spent time doing research in New York.
We talk about how important it is to think about where you work when it comes to having children – to find places that are supportive of families and working parents; about the importance of taking the time you need to recover from childbirth without having the stresses of work hanging over you…
“Here I am, one and a half weeks… post-partum, in my lab, giving an interview in a lab coat, and showing the TV crew everything. So, I think all of that, and the pressure as a new faculty member to prove myself, really took a toll. And I didn’t take care of me; I took care of everyone around me. But not me.” – Becca Calisi
But also about the importance of relaxing, delegating and letting go, when it comes to spending time away from a lab…
“I didn’t want my career to suffer in terms of being in my field. I didn’t want to appear as though I was slowing down. I had a big grant at the time, it was my first big grant at as a faculty member and I wanted to do good by it! And make sure I was keeping on a certain time-table… And it’s hard to relax. It’s hard to not be ambitious. It’s hard to not give it our all. I also didn’t see how I could not take these opportunities…” – Becca Calisi
If you want to find out more about post-partum depression, the US National Institute of Mental Health has some information about it, as done the National Health Service in the UK.
Don’t forget you can also listen (and subscribe!) to the ScienceMamas podcast on iTunes and on SoundCloud!