We are just starting a new blog series entitled Beautiful Minds - Women in Medicine & Technology and are so excited to share coverage of women in our industry who both inspire and intrigue us. While brainstorming this concept one of the first people who came to mind was Carla Valentine, a woman who not only loves her profession but actively works to explore all facets of her realm of work.
Valentine currently serves as a full time staff member at the Barts Medical Museum under the title of Assistant Technical Curator, where her duties include repairing, conserving and cataloging all 5,000 of the museum's specimens and rearranging them in ways pleasing to the Human Tissue Authority. Her fun and outgoing nature led her to organizing events at the museum which ended up bringing in much needed funding. She reached this position after receiving a degree in Forensics and Microbiology and spending eight years working as a mortician doing post mortems. She has traveled the world with her work - exhuming skeletons in Venice and Belgium as part of a Forensic Pathology MSc and catered to the dead during the London Bombings 7/7.
She not only deals with death in her professional life though -- her personal life revolves around it as well. She spends her free time maintaining a blog called The Chick and The Dead where she explores her fascination with death and sex. If you are similarly fascinated with death head over to the site to see her recommendations for Dead Sexy Valentine's Day Gifts -- they certainly won't disappoint, though aren't for the faint of heart. She has even created a social network for death professionals entitled Dead Meet (get it?) where like minded individuals can come together to find romantic partners, collaborators and lecturers. Clearly she makes the absolute most out of her niche interests, finding all possible outlets. By being such an active and outspoken adherent of the community of death professionals, she is often sought out to pen magazine articles, her book on the Museum's collection is quickly coming together and she even consulted on Resident Evil 6. She has built up quite the reputation in the death community.
And speaking of that community, Valentine found out early on that it was much too small for her liking. Seeing that London was lacking a true academic death community, this was something she has worked to build and sustain. She explains, "When I began working with that community to explore cultural aspects of death and mortality I realised two things: 1) Some people still find it difficult to discuss death, even in an environment like the Pathology Museum, and I’ve had to push to show that the events can open up a dialogue which can be built on, and 2) Many of the death academics are actually based at the University of Bath which has a dedicated Centre for Death and Society, so we really needed to bring them to London to show the capital (and therefore the rest of the UK) that’s it’s ok, and in fact necessary, to discuss this issue."
Valentine's relationship with her career is what we all aspire to -- to unconditionally love our profession to the point of living and breathing our interests, and thus never truly having to work a day in our lives.