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Balancing motherhood and a career in science

Friday 11 February 2022 7:48am

rosiemainDr Rosie Brown with children Ollie and Abi.

Today is International Day of Women and Girls in Science and we celebrate the journey of Dr Rosie Brown, a respected senior lecturer and Sir Charles Hercus Research HRC Fellow in the Department of Physiology and mother of three.

The born-and-bred Dunedin local completed her undergraduate, postgraduate, and doctoral studies and established her career while raising three children.

During her study, she saw gaps in female-centred research, especially on what happens in women’s brains during and post-pregnancy which she wanted to help fill.

"I’m very keen to see young women develop and become the next leaders in neuroscience.”

“The wider field of neuroscience has traditionally been dominated by males and so one of the cool things I have found in pursuing this research is great encouragement from other women scientists,” Dr Brown says.

“My colleagues have been really supportive of my research which focuses on how the changing hormones of pregnancy and lactation influence the maternal brain to promote the wellbeing of both offspring and the mother.  I had a fantastic supervisor and mentor who always challenged me to think big about what I could contribute to this area of neuroscience and about where my career could go.”

With three children aged 10, 8 and 2, Dr Brown found a reliable support network is the key to her success.

“I had one child during my post-doc, another as a research fellow and my third while lecturing and I can say it has definitely been a challenge balancing the teaching, lab work, and research all while being pregnant or taking care of kids,” Dr Brown says.

“I am fortunate to have a husband (Mike) and family around to help me as well as working for a Department and being in the Centre for Neuroendocrinology that understand how important it is for me to care for my family,” Dr Brown says.

When asked what advice she would give to women looking to pursue careers in the sciences, she encouraged them to find an area they are interested in and to have a supportive network of people around you.

“Find a research area that you are really passionate about and find people who will give you wise and powerful advice then, after that’s all done, try to give that back to the next generation. I’m very keen to see young women develop and become the next leaders in neuroscience,” Dr Brown says.