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In a new Medium article, Jacqueline Pumphrey interviews Sarah Finnegan, a postdoc working in the Breathe Oxford research group at the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences. As a teenager, Sarah visited the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition, met lots of inspiring scientists, and wondered what it would take to get a job like theirs. This summer, she is leading her group’s own participation at the same prestigious exhibition, where she hopes to inspire the next generation.

How is a scientist made

String and meccano

Sarah was a curious child, always wanting to know how things worked. As a little girl, she spent hours devising complex systems of levers and pulleys using string. Taking things apart, and sometimes managing to figure out how to put them back together, became a constant source of amusement for her — not to mention frustration for her parents, who wanted to use the clocks and gadgets she dismembered!

It’s possible that this fascination with the mechanics of things was inherited from or inspired by her grandpa, who used to fix tanks when he was in the army. This practical gentleman was once kind enough to insert a petrol engine into a plastic meccano model that Sarah had made: she was terribly impressed by how fast this addition made it go!

Fortunately for Sarah, her family encouraged her interests, and her mother in particular was keen to ensure that her and her sister’s education was supplemented as much as possible with trips to museums and galleries. The family would often visit London for the day, taking in a museum before a meal at TGI Fridays in Covent Garden. It was in her early teens that Sarah was taken to visit the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition.

Read the full Medium article