I am very fortunate that I have been able to make a career doing what I love, and to not have had to ‘grow up'.
Dr. Shelley Hoover is a research associate in biology and agriculture. Her research focusses on honeybees, including nutrition, queen breeding and diseases of honeybees, as well as applied bee keeping management. Hoover also studies crop pollination, plant-bee interactions, and fundamental questions about bee behaviour and sociobiology.
What is your area of study?
Research Associate in Biology / Agriculture.
What excites you about science?
Science is exciting to me for two main reasons. First, it has so many applications in the world around us. Everything we see, do, and use is related somehow to science. The more progress we make in science, the more we understand the world around us, and the more we can use it to make life better. Second, I think science is exciting because I never stop learning. For me personally, learning about the world around me is very rewarding.
What sparked your interest in science?
I have always been interested in science, especially the natural world around me. I was that kid that played with ants and other creatures in my yard and the forest near my house. There are so many fascinating animals all around us, if only we stop to look. I am very fortunate that I have been able to make a career doing what I love, and to not have had to "grow up".
Tell us about the first time you felt really excited about what you were learning in science.
I was always excited about science, but I was fortunate to have an excellent primary school science teacher. She was a passionate teacher and made learning fun. We had many different animals in our classroom - birds, snakes, a tarantula - and we did all kinds of fun things.
What do you hope to accomplish through your scientific research and/or work?
My research program is focused on bees and pollination and brings together aspects of many disciplines, including behavioural ecology, epidemiology, physiology and botany. In addition to research I have done a lot of extension work with beekeepers and the public. I hope to be able to advance the knowledge of the field, while communicating to people how this knowledge can be used, and how it can expand their world view.
What words of inspiration would you like to share with the next generation of women & girls in science?
I have never thought of myself as a "woman" in science, but rather as a scientist, who yes, is a woman, who also has a family, and wears many "hats" in addition to scientist. My advice would be the same to all young people interested in science:
1) Find what interests you. If you are going to dedicate years of your life to studying something, you need to think it is endlessly cool (even if no one else does!).
2) Build a network of supportive personal and professional relationships. These can be people at any stage of their career that can help you with specific things, or just great people in your life that can offer you moral support when you need it. I have been lucky to have a core group of fantastically supportive colleagues, and I appreciate them so much.
3) We all have trade-offs in our lives. Recognize that there are many different types of opportunities in science and recognize early what life-sacrifices you are willing to make and what you aren't.
4) Get involved. Volunteer to be on committees in your university, clubs, or professional associations. The people you meet in these groups will be in your network.
5) Do good work, always! A reputation for quality work doesn't in and of itself ensure your success, but a reputation for poor work will ensure you will not succeed. You never know how this will affect you, or who will see what work that you have done, so always produce the best work that you can.