“Science is formalized curiosity and I am a curious person. I love chipping away at a problem until it is solved…”
Dr Sophia Frentz is currently working as an Analyst at Deloitte in the Technology, Strategy, and Architecture team, which technically means she’s an IT professional. She obtained her PhD from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and the University of Melbourne in 2018, focussing on mitochondrial disease and testing a potential treatment.
Sophia has had work published in The Conversation, Archer, The Cusp, and Lateral Magazine, and was included in the Best Australian Science Writing 2016. She was named one of “20 young Australians on the cusp of greatness” in 2015, despite being a New Zealander, spoke at the Final Frontier Festival about women in space, and was recently interviewed on 5 Songs in Space <<URL for hyperlink: https://t.co/qHT9poVwAL>>. Currently, her main “extra-curriculars” are holding a position as a counselor for the Royal Society of Victoria, and hosting a podcast called Things of Interest with fellow kiwi scientist Serena Chen.
Despite leaving academia as fast as her legs could carry her, Sophia is still passionate about diversity in STEM, largely because STEM extends far beyond universities – and as a non-binary, bisexual, disabled person, being supported and represented is pretty close to her heart! While she’s slightly biased towards non-academic career paths due to loving her job so much, she also knows the only way we’re going to get meaningful change is by both making the world better for all people outside and inside the hallowed institutions of learning universities strive to be.
What is it you love about science?
Science is formalized curiosity and I am a curious person. I love chipping away at a problem until it is solved, and the idea that you may discover or create something that has never existed in the world before is so overwhelming and amazing.
What has been the highlight of your studies so far?
I’ve had depression and anxiety my entire life. During my Honours year I realized that it was okay to feel sad and stressed, and that if I could figure out how to move forward, I didn’t want to curl into the fetal position beneath my desk. It was a huge personal highlight.
What motivated you to get involved in supporting women in STEMM?
As a queer, mentally ill science nerd, I had no role models. Nobody had blazed a trail for me, or at least nobody who could be public about it. I had to be my own role model, my own favourite scientist, everything – and that’s really hard. I don’t want other women to go through that.
If you could do it all over again, would you make the same choices?
I would have taken less sh*t, been bolder, and gone out partying more.
Do you experience `imposter syndrome’? How do you deal with it?
I do! I “fake it till I make it” – I act like I know what I’m doing, like I’m incredibly important and everyone loves me, and eventually it becomes true. When I started doing this I could overshoot and come across overconfident, but I’ve settled into a comfortable place. I try to remember: humility is just socially-acceptable lying.
Twitter: @Sophia Frentz
LinkedIn: Dr Sophia Frentz
[Image attributions – in order: Nicole Lake; Blacklight Photography]