Women in Science
Blanca did her degree and PhD in Spain. She went to the USA for postdoc experience, and then came to Oxford. She won an MRC Fellowship, and then a Wellcome Trust Senior Fellowship. She constructs mathematical models of the heart to investigate disease mechanisms and therapies.
at the time of the interview - January 2015
Blanca is a Professor of Computational Medicine, Wellcome Trust Senior Fellow and research academic, in the Department of Computer Science. She is married with three children. Background/nationality: White Spanish
at the time of the interview -January 2015
Blanca greatly enjoyed physics and mathematics when she was at school in Spain. She did an engineering degree, followed by a PhD. Her original topic was electronics, but a visiting professor from the USA inspired her to study biomedical engineering.
After finishing her PhD, Blanca went to the USA as a postdoctoral researcher. She obtained a scholarship from the Spanish government for the first six months. She had an excellent mentor and supervisor, a woman who supported her and encouraged her, and who found funds to pay her salary for another 18 months. During this time Blanca looked at the way therapies such as defibrillation affect the heart.
it is always hard to get feedback and it’s always hard to get criticism but we need to get on with it ... I think it is much, much better to get that feedback from people you know before you submit than to actually wait for reviewers ... to criticise your work
After two years in the USA, Blanca and her husband moved to Oxford. Her husband was offered a permanent post as a lecturer and Blanca applied for an Intermediate Fellowship. She was not successful immediately but when she applied for four fellowships the next year she was awarded all of them. She accepted a Career Development Award from the Medical Research Council. The fellowship gave her five years to do her research. After that Blanca was offered a permanent position in the department but she wanted to continue her research career so she applied for a Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellowship and was awarded it. She uses computational modelling to understand variability in cardiac response to disease, drugs and mutations. She aims to improve diagnosis and treatment. She also does some teaching and supervises students.
Blanca had her three children after she started working in Oxford. Each time she had a baby she took six months maternity leave. During that time she kept in touch with her work. She was lucky to find places in a University nursery next door to her office. Her husband shares nursery and school runs with her. There is an after school club and she has friends who help with child care too.
Blanca is very busy with research and management. She says that good planning is essential. She is glad that she has a flexible job and can work at home if necessary. She doesn’t have clear boundaries between work and home. Blanca thinks that science is a great career and it helps to accept that we may not be able to do everything perfectly all the time.