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Marina Romanchikova

Principal Scientist

4 minute read

In their own words Marina tells their story. 

I started as a student in medical informatics back in Germany because I was always interested both in medicine and computers.  When I was at university I tried and studied various topics and became interested in medical physics.

I decided to do a PhD not because I wanted a career in academia, but because I found the suggested research topic fascinating. The PhD position I was most interested in turned out to be at the Institute of Cancer Research in Sutton, UK. As part of the PhD training programme, we attended several NPL courses. So, I became familiar with NPL early in my career.

After my PhD I decided I wanted some industry experience. I became a software consultant which was a mixed bag. I enjoyed travelling and meeting new people, but I did not enjoy the 12-hour days. I found it to be an extremely uncreative job, and I felt like a part of a large corporate machine. I soon started missing the connection to medical physics and began looking for a new job. I found a postdoctoral position at Cambridge University Hospitals Medical Physics department, that turned out to be an interesting and demanding data-centric role, where I gradually developed data science skills. Towards the end of my 5-year contract, I was presenting my work at a conference, and I met someone from NPL. I hadn’t considered NPL as a place to apply, as I was looking for jobs in Cambridge area. To my surprise I learned NPL had hubs across the country, including one in Cambridge. Shortly afterwards I came across the job position in the data science department and applied.

During the interview process I really liked the people and felt keen to get working on the data management challenges they described. I joined NPL as a principal scientist at the time the data science department was just forming. At this stage we were shaping the team, which was not easy, but very rewarding.

My day-to-day or week-to-week can be very different. A lot of my time is spent in technical meetings to discuss and refine project ideas. As a principal scientist, I do a lot of talking to scientists within and outside my project teams, collecting and processing high-level information, preparing and reviewing reports and papers, as well as managing and establishing collaborations. Some weeks are so busy that most of the time is spent answering emails and attending meetings, while others I can focus on technical tasks and forget the outside world.

If I think back 10 or so years, I honestly never thought I would get to where I am now. I am surrounded by bright and quick-thinking people, who know so much more than me and publish great research. From time to time, you will doubt yourself and your worth. Yet every now and then there will be moments when you realise your work matters and adds value.  

Choosing a career path is like choosing a house. First you want to upsize because you have a growing family. Then you may want to downsize or move to the countryside or into the heart of the city. I think it’s important to consider your career not as a progression of pre-defined steps, but as something that you choose to fulfil your needs at different life stages.

I think it is great that we are quite a diverse organisation, and I've seen a lot of positive diversity and inclusion work here. However, I would love for us to shout about it more externally.  

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The information contained on the above text is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional or medical advice. All content, including text, images and information, is for general information purposes only and NPL does not warrant nor represent that it is intended or is suitable for a specific purpose.