How HLF changed my life: Pantea Pooladvand

BLOG: Heidelberg Laureate Forum

Laureates of mathematics and computer science meet the next generation
Heidelberg Laureate Forum

The COVID-19 pandemic forces us all to pause, reflect, and adapt. While the 8th Heidelberg Laureate Forum has been postponed to September 2021, this year’s Virtual HLF will take place from Monday, September 21 until Friday, September 25, 2020. Its motto: Traversing Separation.

An excellent opportunity to review seven successful years of HLF and to follow-up on some alumni and their path since then.

Who are you, where are you from and what is your scientific background?
My name is Pantea Pooladvand. I am a PhD student at the University of Sydney. My background is in building mathematical models to study biological problems in tumour growth and immunology.

Photo courtesy of Pantea Pooladvand

In which year did you attend the HLF and what were you doing back then?
I attended 6th HLF in 2018 and I was a PhD student.

What inspired you most during the HLF?
Speaking with the Laurates, I was inspired by the dedication, perseverance, and creative thinking applied to problem-solving. On many occasions, I found myself reflecting on my own work and considering how I could apply what I was learning in my field of research.

What is your best memory you have from your stay in Heidelberg?
Heidelberg is the most exceptional city. So many great memories but I recall having a wonderful time on the cruise down Neckar River, spending the day in the sunshine with the Laurates and fellow young researchers. Many interesting conversations and spectacular views.

What has happened in your life since then and in which position are you currently working?
I am now coming to the final few months of my PhD and am in the process of finalising projects. It is interesting to see the work coming together and to get a sense of how much I have learnt in the past few years. I have embraced many opportunities to present my research both at national and international events and am looking forward to continuing my work in modelling cancer growth and therapies in a translational environment.

Pantea Pooladvand on her HLF experience.

Which advice would you give the next generation of Young Researchers?
This is a very dynamic and interactive event. Make the most of it. Meet as many Laureates and network with as many young researchers as possible. You will make some wonderful friends and possible collaborators.

How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your professional and private life?
Like others around the world, this has been a challenging time for me. I am by nature a social person and greatly enjoy working with others in a creative space. I have had to adapt to interacting with colleagues and friends online and find new ways to stay connected and engaged. 

What is the most valuable lesson the pandemic taught you so far?
Seeing both personal and business interactions transition so quickly to online platforms, including my own tutoring business, I have learnt that we are all very capable of transforming and adapting to a new way of life. It is very impressive.

Working in an interdisciplinary field of research that is relevant for the general public as well, which role does science communication play in your everyday work?
Science communication is vital in my field of research. To the general public, it may seem at times that cancer research is stagnant and advancements are not being made quickly enough. This is in fact far from the truth as advancements are being made every day. The communication of this information in a way that is easy to comprehend, is crucial to the awareness of the general public, and very importantly, to inspire the next generation of scientists.

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Jens-Steffen Scherer is a neuroscientist, science communicator, and moderator. Besides pursuing his Ph.D. at the University of Oldenburg, he works for the National Institute for Science Communication (NaWik) and the Südwestrundfunk (SWR). In 2018 Jens-Steffen won the 8th Science Slam of Oldenburg. LinkedIn

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