MOSAICS celebrates the International Day of Women and Girls in Science

On the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, we shine the spotlight on four key women within the MOSAICS project. Despite their different backgrounds and levels of experience within the world of research, they share a strong passion for science and the dedication to helping others, which drive their work towards improving treatment for those who suffer from hearing loss.

Supervisors and early-stage researchers, mentors and mentees. Women in science. These are their stories and the messages they want to share to celebrate this day and, hopefully, inspire many other women and girls to make the leap towards discovering how fun and rewarding research can be.

Loes fell in love with research during her bachelor at Maastricht University and quickly discovered she wanted to learn about and investigate the way people acquire and use knowledge and the underlying mechanisms in the brain (cognitive neuroscience). After completing a Research Master in Clinical and Cognitive Neuroscience at Maastricht University, she joined the MOSAICS project as an Early-Stage Researcher (ESR). Since then, she has started her research towards assessing different aspects of cognitive abilities and how these might predict the treatment outcomes of adult cochlear implant users. Ultimately, through her research she aims to improve the understanding of possible cochlear implant performance barriers, guiding interventions towards a better outcome for adult CI users. To her, the MOSAICS project is a small, but important piece of the puzzle that focuses on understanding the underlying principles of cognition and perception, while at the same time helping CI patients.

What inspired me to pursue a career in science was my curiosity towards understanding more about the brain, next to the appeal of the variety of skills and tasks involved in research.

Hearing research offers the best of both worlds: connecting with people on an individual level and making a large-scale impact in society.

Nikki is passionate about patient-centred care and research that influences policy and clinical practice, which is why she was so keen to join the MOSAICS project after obtaining her Master of Science degree in Audiology from the University of Cape Town. Her Masters research focused on the audiological management of young children with bacterial meningitis in a low-to-mid income country. As an ESR within the MOSAICS project, she studies how cochlear implants have an effect on the quality of life, communication profile, social functioning, independence, and work of those who wear them. With her motivation to provide patients with evidence-based, personalised treatment that allows them access to the best outcomes and quality of life possible, while also impacting the way clinicians provide care, she is developing a personalized CI rehabilitation programme focused on the individual needs of CI users.

Birgit’s passion to strive for the implementation of person-centred care and improve people’s lives with CIs, has guided her throughout her career in science. After graduating as a Speech and Language Pathologist at KULeuven, she obtained a Master’s degree in Audiology at Ghent University. Combining clinical audiological work such as CI counselling, testing and fitting and driving CI-research in the area of speech perception in poor and star performers, led her to obtaining a PhD at Ghent University. Today, she wears many hats, including as the supervisor of both Loes and Nikki within the MOSAICS project, as a Principal Research Audiologist at Cochlear Ltd., as a staff member of the Ghent University College where she teaches CI-related courses in the Audiology bachelor’s programme, and last but not least especially for such a successful career in science, as a wife and mother of three kids.

Do you want to make impact and serve people with challenging hearing conditions? Choose courage over comfort and start a research journey!

Hearing loss impacts life on many levels. By contributing to hearing research you can positively influence people’s lives.

Wendy has a keen interest in supporting the clinical path of adults who require hearing amplification, specifically cochlear implants. This has led her to obtaining a Masters of Science in Speech-Language Pathology at the University of Nijmegen, completing her PhD degree in medical science, embarking in clinical work and leading several research projects with a focus on patients with cochlear implants. She is now Head Care Innovation and Chair of the Research Board Hearing & Implants at the department of Otorhinolaryngology Head & Neck surgery of the Radboud University Medical Center in Nijmegen. With her extensive clinical and research experience, she supervises both Loes and Nikki within the MOSAICS project.

Under the attentive guidance of Birgit, Wendy and the whole supervisory team in MOSAICS, Loes and Nikki are making important steps forward in their career as researchers and in their journey as doctoral students, collaborating closely with their colleagues Ignacio and Enrico. Follow the team’s progress and stay updated on their latest research through the news updates on our website and Twitter channel (@MOSAICS_2020).

Here’s to all the Women and Girls in Science, we celebrate you, your achievements and dreams! Thank you for setting each day an important example for the future generations of scientists.