My guest is Sandra Phoma, she's from Mafikeng and studying in Pretoria, South Africa. In this episode, we learn that growing up Sandra had many interests ranging from arts, sports, and academic activities. After taking a gap year, she decided to focus on science and after fell in love with it. She tells us that she ventured into the field of ocean science with the skills she learned from her honors and a Masters's degree in microbiology. Currently, Sandra is a PhD candidate in ocean microbial ecology. Her work involves understanding the diversity, biogeography and functionality of the ocean microbiome. The sampling area includes waters south of Africa (South Indian Ocean and the Southern Ocean). She tells us about this research and the importance. During the PhD Sandra has had the opportunity to mentor, teach, and help lead other young scientists which she enjoyed. The European Union has also recognized Sandra as the South African ambassador for the All-Atlantic Ocean Youth youth program that helps connect local communities back to the ocean. Sandra mentions that despite the many successes in her academic journey, it can be a lonely one, primarily as a first-generation postgraduate student. Lastly, Sandra tells us how she would run her own lab if she was a supervisor, Beyonce is involved! Tune in to hear all about it and more.