Week 30: Stephanie Jones


Please tell us a little bit about yourself.


I’m a scientist and a dual-sport athlete. I’m finishing my Ph.D. in microbiology at McMaster university, and I’ll be starting a research scientist role at MIT in September. I’m studying bacteria and antibiotics – topics that are really important for fighting the antibiotic resistance crisis. I now play ultimate frisbee. I played for McMaster for two years, and I now play on a Hamilton team that competes at tournaments across Canada. I did my undergrad degree at Syracuse University, where I was a goalie on an ice hockey scholarship.

How has sport helped you develop skills for your work today?


I think sports have played a huge role in helping me develop skills that I’ve used throughout my PhD, and will continue to use as a scientist. Sports have taught me how to work in teams, lead by example, and that there really is no substitute for hard work and preparation. Above all, sports have taught me how to persevere through inevitable roadblocks and failures. As a goalie, I had to learn to quickly rebound after getting scored on. In ultimate, it’s the same – it’s important to quickly rebound after making a bad decision. Obstacles and failures are common in science, and my experience in sports has taught me to learn from my mistakes and use that to make better decisions to ensure future success.


How has sport helped you be a better leader?


Others have described me as a ‘quiet leader’ – I’m not the most vocal or outgoing, but I learned through sport that I can lead by example. As a goalie, I always worked hard, spent extra time on the ice, and tried to demonstrate effective academic habits. I think this helped set a tone and expectations for my teammates, and I hope my actions acted as an example for others. In the workplace, I learned that I can lead in the same way. I try to work hard and smart, and I think my actions have set a valuable example for others.

Why did you continue to stay involved in sport? How has sport continued to have a positive impact on you?


I’m super competitive, and sports have always provided a much needed outlet for my competitive nature! I also have always felt it’s incredibly important to maintain balance in life. Working and studying can be isolating, and it can be easy to forget that there’s a world outside the workplace. Sports have been my way of maintaining balance by providing me with a healthy hobby and helping me create friendships. Sports have continued to have a massive impact on my life by helping me stay fit, enjoy the wonderful outdoors, and provide a sense of meaning. They’ve also provided an escape for me when I’ve felt overwhelmed by work, which I think has been a very important component of my success!



This is what her nominator had to say…


In sport, I can speak to the fact that she is a highly engaged and positive member of the Hamilton Ultimate community (HUC). I recently started playing Ultimate, and quickly learned that she is Steph is a teammate people can rely on, she often will go early or stick around for an extra game to play for other teams when they are short. The spirit of Ultimate Frisbee is about high competition, played with respect and dignity for all players. She has won “spirit of the game” awards from her peers in HUC, and it is because she is always playing hard while having fun, complimenting her competitors even when they have her beat, and (speaking for me and a friend who have learned the game from her) is so patient and friendly on a team coaching and offering guidance to players learning the game. Whenever we go to games together, it’s clear that she is a recognizable and beloved member of HUC.


In science, she has made waves in discovering a new mode of bacterial growth that has significant impact in her fields understanding of bacterial metabolism and communication. She has had her work reviewed in top tier publications such as Nature, and in the fall won the top graduate research prize for Most Innovative Refereed Journal Article in Canada.


On a day to day scale, she wants to make the world a better place by making science more accessible, and the student staff I work with are inspired by her ability to clearly speak about her research story and its importance. She leads by example, illustrating the importance of living authentically and putting herself forward as a strong, successful female identified role model for future generations. I am proud to have her in my life and think she’d make a great face for your campaign.