About Beata Mierzwa
Beata Mierzwa studies how human cells divide and shares the beauty of science through art and fashion. Her postdoctoral research aims to advance the world’s understanding of cell division and improve cancer therapy. Beyond her academic career, Beata creates science-themed drawings and clothes. Her hand-drawn illustrations use metaphor to portray scientific concepts in intuitive ways, while her microscopy fashion celebrates the beauty of the molecular world. She also created a science video game, Microscopya, that invites players to explore the beauty inside our cells. Through her AAAS IF/THEN Ambassadorship for science outreach and her work with Young Women in Bio – Southern California, she aims to inspire creative students to pursue careers in STEM. For more information, please visit www.beatascienceart.com or follow @beatascienceart on social media.
What lessons have you learned in your STEM journey?
The most important thing that I learned is that it’s never too late to try new things and do what you’re passionate about. When I was in high school I loved both science and art, but I thought I needed to choose between these passions. It took me many years to realize that I can combine them, and I would have never dreamt that one day I would be able to use art to communicate science and inspire students to pursue careers in STEM. Though starting a new endeavor can feel challenging, I learned that there is no point in waiting until you feel ‘ready’, but rather to take one step at a time and be open to new opportunities.
I also learned the huge impact that role models can have on someone’s life and future career. Though I always loved both art and science, I didn’t have a role model when I was younger to demonstrate that combining them was a possibility. I want to make sure that girls with unique passions have access to role models that highlight diverse careers in STEM so that they can find paths where they can thrive as their unique selves.
What has been a critical factor in your success?
Two critical factors have been connecting with the community and being open to opportunities. Sharing my work with others and making connections has led to lots of unexpected opportunities – from lab internships abroad to drawing mission patches for research in space, and even creating a video game! Almost all of these projects have brought me out of my comfort zone and have taught me so much. I try to treat each project as a learning opportunity, remembering that challenges are part of the process and that each of them might open up new and exciting opportunities.
What advice do you have for students and young professionals in STEM?
Whatever your dream is – whether it’s science, art, or combining your own unique passions – I want to encourage you to treat your passions like a fun experiment that can lead to exciting adventures and maybe even a new career. Be open to new opportunities and take one step at a time. Connect with like-minded people and reach out to your role models and mentors. There is no need to hesitate to ask for advice or support from people who inspire you. Most of them will be happy to support you, but they can only help you if you reach out and connect with them.
And remember that no dream is too big to pursue. Being a scientist doesn’t need to be an all-encompassing definition of who you are, you can have fantastical ideas, fascinating hobbies, and still be an amazing scientist as well!