What is the current focus of your research, and what do you find most rewarding about your work?
I am studying the stem cells of human epidermis, focusing on how cells exit from the stem cell compartment. What is most rewarding at present is validating our experimental observations using single cell RNA seq data from the Human Cell Atlas.
What led you to become a scientist and to stem cell research?
From an early age I only ever wanted to be a scientist, so I never made a choice between science and any other form of employment. Throughout my career I have been interested in how tissues in the body are maintained throughout adult life - this led me naturally to working on stem cells. I wrote a review with Peter Hall in 1989 (PMID: 2562658) which sets out my early thinking.
What is the most exciting aspect of your work?
When the answer to a long-standing research problem suddenly becomes clear.
What guidance would you share in talking with trainees interested in pursuing your area of research?
Follow your passion.
Do you have any mentors or individuals who have inspired you in your stem cell work?
I was inspired by pioneers of stem cell research, including Irv Weissman, Chris Potten, and Nick Wright.
How do you spend your free time?
I love to spend time with my three children, gardening, and walking our dog.
What is something your peers would be surprised to learn about you?
I like scuba diving.
What do you most value about your membership with the ISSCR?
My fellow members. I’m embarrassed to admit that when Len Zon first came up with the idea of starting the Society I tried to talk him out of it.
Editor’s Note: “ Fiona, we are glad you had a change of heart! Thank you for your 18 years of membership and service as former ISSCR President.”