Today’s Notable Young Professional is Julia Hamer, a seriously multitalented neuroscientist/model who’s just as beautiful as she is brilliant. We caught up with her to find out what inspires her career and what advice she would share with other young professionals…
1. Describe what you do in less than 140 characters. Go.
I’m a Neuroscientist at St. Michael’s Hospital, currently completing my Masters of Medical Science. I also teach Histopathology at the University of Toronto, I’m a beach volleyball coach, and a model. However, I spend an equal amount of time posting food photos on Instagram @juliahamer.
2. What was the inspiration for your career route?
I love to learn. My parents remember me coming home from my first day of pre-school crying because I had practiced my alphabet for weeks and was so proud that I could count up to 50, but no one tested me at school. It was clear from the get-go that I would not be following in my parent’s footsteps as artists. There’s a phase of childhood development that’s commonly referred to as the “questions phase” where kids keep asking “why.” I loved this phase so much that I decided to make a career out of asking questions.
So why neuroscience? Well, neuroscience is a relatively new field in the world of research, so there’s a lot of questions to ask and a lot to be answered. I’ve always thought of humans as being robots that haven’t figured out how to effectively wire themselves yet. I’ve used myself as a subject for experimentation, training my mind to crave certain foods, to hate others, to increase my REM sleep, to learn how to study/memorize in my sleep, to mitigate the feeling of pain during intense workouts, and to reduce my symptoms of anxiety through exercise. My all-time favourite and most inspiring quote is by Rita Levi Montalcini (a famous female scientist who was still publishing papers when she was 100 years old!!): “My body can do what it wants. I am not the body. I am the mind.” This is something I live by!
3. What is the most memorable milestone in your career so far?
Being offered my first research position at Sunnybrook Hospital in the field of Medical Oncology. I remember being so nervous for my interview because all I had on my resume was “I’ve played a lot of volleyball,” “I have a Master’s degree in volleyball,” and “please give me this job.” Nonetheless, he saw potential in me and took a chance—this launched me into a career in medicine.
4. Where do you see yourself in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years?
Five years – finishing medical school, 10 years—finishing residency, 20 years—teaching my kids about science, sports, health, positive thinking, and most importantly, kindness (with my future husband!) I also hope I’ll be working as a neurologist or medical oncologist somewhere, while continuing my research!
5. Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
First, stop looking at your phones and pay attention to what’s actually happening in life—not just what’s strategically documented. Second, be authentic, be you, and be the energy you want to attract.
6. Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is it (or they) important to you?
I joke with my family that I am a charity since I still have a lot of schooling to pay off haha, but I still support a few great organizations. I run an annual fundraiser for Oolagen—a charity that focuses on mental health of youth by providing free counseling in schools. I also volunteer my time at places like the Ronald McDonald House cooking for the Home for Dinner program and at the Hospital for Sick Children.
7. What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge for me was choosing to leave the National Beach Volleyball Team and focus all my attention on my academics. Being a professional beach volleyball player for Team Canada was a dream, but after three years I realized I needed to dream even bigger and fulfill my ultimate goal of becoming a clinician-scientist and having a greater impact on the world around me.
8. What does the word notable mean to you?
Different than the rest, a stand-out.
1. Where is your favourite place to wine/dine in your city and why?
I’m biased, I love my food more than anyone else’s. My favourite place is on my patio, with an extravagant charcuterie board, sipping a glass of cabernet sauvignon with Martin. That is perfection.
2. What’s the most visited website on your Internet browser? The most played song on your phone?
PubMed is most frequently visited (research publication database) and probably Pinterest. My most played song would be a StriveCast workout playlist from SoundCloud.
3. Who’s one person you think everyone should be following on social media?
4. What’s your favourite country to visit and why? And what’s the next one you plan on travelling to?
Brazil… the food, water, music, lifestyle. Next up is Portugal.
5. What gives you the greatest FOMO?
I just asked everyone in my lab what FOMO is… I thought it had something to do with food, hah! But my only “fear of missing out” is missing out on a girl’s night or on a great meal. When my mom sends me a photo of the Sunday dinner I missed, I cry a little inside. Her Portuguese chicken though…
6. What’s your guiltiest pleasure?
I don’t feel guilty very often, but I do sometimes have buyers remorse when I blackout at HomeSense and somehow end up walking home with ten new pillows.
7. What’s something you wish you didn’t spend so much money on? What’s something you wish you spent more on?
I wish I spent more money on trips/experiences. But those pillows at HomeSense are just looking at me and they have no real home, no family—how sad!! I’m a pillow saver. I save pillow’s lives.
8. And finally, what does success look like to you? Work, play, or otherwise…
To me, success is that feeling of being content, but in a constant state of self-improvement and self-actualization. It’s a happy place where you’re free to find even more greatness.