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Zhav Loizeau

Higher Scientist

4 minute read

In their own words Zhav Loizeau tells their story

After finishing my masters in mathematics and statistics in 2015 in France, I started a PhD in Germany. It was both the opportunity to fulfil my dream to work in research in mathematics and explore my identity (for example gender identity and romantic orientation) in a new environment away from social expectations. Working independently on a long-term project while living far from my family and friends made me realise how impactful social life is on mental health. 

I currently work in the Data Science department and my weeks are usually split between working in health science (Digital Pathology), and climate science projects. 

Over the last year or so my career at NPL has allowed me to take on more responsibilities. For example, participating in recruitment, management, technical leadership, but also being involved in the LGBTQ+ network and D&I taskforce. Being a part of the network has been very helpful at key moments for me, such as when I came out to my family. 

Being a foreign worker has its own challenges. At times, struggling to see friends and family makes me feel uprooted and fear not being there for them in moments that matter. It also brings administrative burden, and sometimes a struggle with the language. It’s important to learn about mental health and how to tackle issues you face with loneliness. 

As I realised that I’m not cisgendered or heterosexual, I thought that there is no way I can ever be myself at work, and my family might not accept me. Being conscious of how you present yourself at work is a real drain. The LGBTQ+ network helped me see that I am not going through this alone and I am now “out”, confident and feel accepted at work. It took a long time to get here but it’s so worth it.  

On the mental health side, it’s easier said than done. But you’re not alone. Go and speak to people who love you and open up about your struggle. Never discard the need for time off if your mental health requires it. There should be no shame. Find your people and go at your own pace. It’s not a race.  

Don’t hesitate to get in touch with the internal networks. You don’t have to regularly get involved but there is someone there for you.  

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