Julie Gould hears about three mid-life career moves, and how they often coincide with big changes in scientists’ personal lives.

In 2012, more than a decade years after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in French, mother-of-six Bethany Kolbaba Kartchner switched to science, rising at 4 a.m. to study for an associate’s degree in biochemistry at Maricopa Community Colleges in Tempe, Arizona.

In the second episode of Muddle of the Middle, a six-part podcast series about the mid-career stage in science, Kolbaba Kartchner, who is now a PhD candidate at Arizona State University. tells Julie Gould how she interacts with her fellow graduate students and manages her busy personal and professional schedules.

Leslie Rissler swapped academia for a post at the US National Science Foundation in Alexandria, Virginia. This involved moving in 2015 from Alabama, where she had worked as a professor of biological sciences. The change coincided with a divorce and undergoing a bilateral mastectomy.

They are joined by structured-light researcher Andrew Forbes, who, 10 years after co-founding a company, took a role in academia and is now a professor at the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa.

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