Samantha Sampson

Professor Samantha Sampson is VALIDATE’s Network Co-Director and a TB Researcher at Stellenbosch University, South Africa. Sam leads the Host-Pathogen Mycobactomics Research Group at Stellenbosch and works to gain a better understanding of how the pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis interacts with its host to cause disease.

This is a special VALID8 for The International Day of Women and Girls in Science Day.

What do you do/what do you research?

My team and I work on host-pathogen interactions in TB disease.

What do you tell non-scientists you do? 

I say that I work on Tuberculosis, which has been around for much longer than COVID 😉

What drew you to studying vaccines? 

I had the privilege of undertaking post-doctoral research in the laboratory of Prof. Barry Bloom, whose passionate advocacy for new and improved TB vaccines was infectious.

What is the most challenging part of your job or research? 

The administrative burden that limits my time to think about science!

Why are vaccines important? 

I am firmly convinced that vaccines are one of the most cost-effective routes to infectious disease control, which is essential in resource-poor settings. Although there is much work still to be done to fully understand the TB pathogen and how to manipulate both host and bacterial factors in favour of the host!

What is the most interesting thing you have learned in your job?

That seeing young scientists develop is just as exciting as cool scientific discoveries!

Who are your women role models? 

The numerous mentors who have supported my career, my mom, and Dolly Parton (odd, I know, but she has navigated her life with excellence, grace, humour and flair – good things to aspire to!), 

What advice would you give to girls and young women considering a career in science?

Be absolutely sure that it is really what you want to do – this is not an easy path. If you want to pursue an academic track, a true love for science and your research area will be a great benefit – it really is what keeps me going in the tough times! Having said that, there are many science career options besides academia, and these should not be viewed as “second choices”.

Find out more

You can find more about Sam's research on her VALIDATE biography page.

There are more fascinating interviews with members of our extensive network of researchers on our VALID8? page. This is an ongoing series, so check back regularly.

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