Faces of Science: Andrea Detlefsen

Faces of Science: Andrea Detlefsen

Andrea in M Dorothy Hodgkin Top and M Rosalind Franklin Pant

AmorSui’s “Faces of Science” Campaign features women scientists with their own unique shapes, sizes, and stories to encourage current women and future generations in STEM fields to feel comfortable in their skin and empowered to discover the next big thing.

Today we're featuring Andrea Detlefsen, a 2nd year PhD student in Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of Pennsylvania. Andrea is styled with AmorSui protective and professional garments that are fire-resistant and antimicrobial, and accessories as a part of our In Her Element shoot to display how women in STEM could be feminine, strong, and confident. Read more about how she made her lab professional wardrobe safe and chic, and how she thinks sweet potato french fries are overrated.

What is your research focus?

I evaluate different variations of a protein called AKR1C3, known to be responsible for drug resistance in prostate cancer, using molecular biology and mass spectrometry methods to identify locations on the protein we should be designing the drug against. In a way, I look at how this protein becomes resistant to current treatments and determine how it causes cancer.

What attracts you to science?

When I was younger, I was more interested in psychology. After taking a chemistry class in high school, I really fell in love with the subject. My dad is a PhD chemist and has a small chemistry business that he runs with my mom. Perhaps their scientific mindsets have influenced me to pursue the field, but I like being a part of the pack.

Andrea in M Dorothy Hodgkin Top and M Rosalind Franklin Pant

What motivates you to continue to work in science?

I am good at planning for experiments and executing them. I like getting organized, and the routine of getting things done in the lab. A big part of why I enjoy working in the lab is that even when things are not going well, I get to figure out solutions to my problems that could potentially make an impact. In science, it is about progress. You can explore different approaches over and over again until experiments work. I enjoy the process of getting to those answers.

What is your career aspiration? What do you want to do next?

I’d love to explore a career in industry. There is also a possibility that I could inherit the business from my dad, which would be a lifelong commitment.

Andrea in M Dorothy Hodgkin Top and M Rosalind Franklin Pant

What is the last accomplishment you celebrated?

My boyfriend and I just took a vacation to see his family in St. Petersburg, Florida. We got to see his dog who is super cute! I am looking forward to celebrating the completion of my preliminary exam in about two months. I have not published anything yet, but I'm in the process of writing a review paper during social distancing.

Tell me something you think is strange about you.

A lot of people like sweet potato french fries, but I think they are overhyped. Regular fries are much better.

Andrea in M Dorothy Hodgkin Top and M Rosalind Franklin Pant

Could you describe your wardrobe?

My wardrobe is pretty casual. I usually wear jeans; I have 2-3 pairs that I rotate throughout the week. I like wearing tops with sleeves. I own a lot of coats because I get cold in the lab easily. My shoes are all close-toed to make sure my feet are covered in the lab.

Do your outfits different in and out of the lab?

Yes. In the summer, I wear sundresses outside of the lab. I also like wearing athletic tights during my leisure time, but I don’t usually wear them in the lab. If I am doing benchwork, I try to wear thicker pants.

Do you have a dress code when working in your lab?

Yes, apart from the typical dress code, we also have to cover our legs and wear a lab coat.

What outfits would you normally wear when you need to look nice for presentations or talks?

I would wear a nicer pair of pants or a skirt, with a professional-looking top.

Andrea in M Dorothy Hodgkin Top and M Rosalind Franklin Pant

What advice you would give to female scientists to dress more appropriately or professionally in the lab?

Before I knew about AmorSui, I would bring a change of clothes to the lab. Now that AmorSui offers professional and protective clothing options for the lab, I think more people should consider AmorSui for clothing that transitions well to build your professional wardrobe.

Follow Andrea on Facebook at Andrea Detlefsen or on Instagram @wingspandrea.

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