Alexia Cosby from the US is a postdoc at UC Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, USA, and participated in the 72nd Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting.
Alexia is a chemist inspired by metals in medicine. Her current work investigates using small molecule chelators for the targeted delivery of radiometals to a cancer site. Radiometals possess different properties which allow for either disease diagnosis or treatment. She hopes to de-stigmatise the use of radioactivity as treatments continue to be FDA-approved.
Enjoy the interview with Alexia and get inspired:
What inspired you to pursue a career in science / in your discipline?
I want to be able to contribute to medical advances through chemical design. As a chemist, I am inspired by the ability to build intricate, complicated compounds from scratch which have incredible powers to image, treat, and irradicate various cancers and diseases. I am especially interested in the role of metals in medicine toward improving patient outcome.
Who are your role models?
Marie Curie and Francis Arnold.
How did you get to where you are in your career path?
I am a first-generation college student, so I wanted to break the cycle and become a doctor. Initially, I wanted to be a cardiac surgeon. But during my undergraduate education, I realised research was how my brain worked — I can’t stop until I solve a problem!
What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
I am still attached to the primary objective of my dissertation, which was investigating radioactivity to self-excite luminescent metal complexes. The project was incredibly fun and inspiring — trying to light up cancer for dual imaging and resection during surgery.
What’s a time you felt immense pride in yourself / your work?
When I am able to learn something new, and then teach or train my students — seeing their excitement over successful projects is what motives me the most.
What is a “day in the life” of you like?
As a postdoc, I enjoy the freedom of making my own hours. I typically spend the morning answering emails and planning projects, and then in the afternoon, I am either mentoring students or in the lab (likely at the fluorimeter).
What are you seeking to accomplish in your career?
I want to contribute to the cancer imaging field; I have always been most fascinated by tuning optical properties toward specific stimuli. Hopefully, one day I will discover new ways of lighting up cancer for more streamlined patient care.
What do you like to do when you’re not doing research?
Spend time with my tuxedo cats (they are always dressed better than I am), eat my way through San Francisco, or go for long walks while chatting with family on the phone.
What advice do you have for other women interested in science / in your discipline?
Never give up. As women, we are marginalised and will face challenges that might knock us down. But science is for everyone — be bold and courageous.
In your opinion, what will be the next great breakthrough in science / in your discipline?
Streamlining theranostic formulation for quicker benchtop-to-clinic formulation.
What should be done to increase the number of female scientists and professors?
Spreading awareness as young as possible — in grade school, high school, etc. I was not aware of scientific research until I started my undergraduate studies. Perhaps because I grew up in a small town and was a first-generation college student, but it is our job as women in science to encourage future generations that there are opportunities for them in STEM.