Sandra Tavares, researcher in cancer biology at the I3S - Institute for Health Research and Innovation, University of Porto, winner of the L'Oréal Medal of Honor for Women in Science 2021, tells us how she discovered that cancer biology was the area she wanted to develop her research work in.

During the month of March, the FCCN Unit is joining the GÉANT #WomenInSTEM campaign by interviewing several female guests in the STEM fields.

ST: My name is Sandra Tavares and I am a researcher in the area of cancer biology, at the Institute of Molecular Pathology and Immunology at the University of Porto. However, I didn't start here.

- When and why did you become interested in STEM? Was this your dream as a child/teenager?

ST: The way the human body works has always fascinated me and that's what made me graduate in biochemistry, in Porto. There I realized that science is much broader than what I initially thought and so, when I finished my degree I decided to try to work on fungi. I soon realized that what I really liked was cancer biology and so I changed and found my personal and professional fulfillment.

- What inspiring message or advice would you give to young girls interested in a career in STEM?

ST: We women should seek to be where we want to be, where our intellect and talent makes us happy and fulfilled. Of course, for me, science has a beauty and complexity that dazzles me and seeing new women sharing my girlish enthusiasm makes me happy, because I know that we will continue to bring the balance that our community needs and that society depends on, in everything that defines it. Society needs to create an environment where the decision to be a scientist is natural, simply because it is.

The partnership that gave rise to L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science was concluded in 1998, between UNESCO and L'Oréal, and inspired several local initiatives in some countries where the company is present. Portugal is one of the countries that, in 2004, began awarding the L'Oréal Portugal Medals of Honor for Women in Science - a joint initiative between L 'Oréal Portugal, the National UNESCO Commission - Portugal and the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT).

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