We had the good fortune of connecting with Trish Zornio and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Trish, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
My work-life balance has definitely changed over time. Even when I was in high school, I worked at least 20-30 hours a week on top of my school work to pay for necessities. In college, it was the same, so I started taking over 20 credits per semester (to graduate in three years, instead of four), and worked three jobs on the side to pay for my rent, food, books and to avoid taking out too much in student loans. In graduate school I did a double track thesis, meaning I did two full projects instead of one to diversity my skills, and also worked on the side to pay my way. This kind of work-first mantra continued for years as I took research jobs in hospitals, often easily reaching 80-100 hours a week. Sure, I’d get some climbing or yoga in, but my work life became almost synonymous with my personal life, in that the people I worked with became my friends because there wasn’t much time outside.
Although this is arguably what got me ahead in my career, I don’t recommend this, it’s very unhealthy… and probably why I now own a book for women called Burnout.
This all changed when COVID-19 hit. I got stuck at home working only part-time, and I almost didn’t even know what to do. Then I started to relish the break, not realizing how exhausted I’d been. For about 6 to 8 months I just decompressed from all the work stress. But it was hard, because I felt super lazy taking time for myself or not being structured. Now, I’m trying to fight back that inner societal narrative that I grew up with, and appreciate life beyond work. I certainly haven’t perfected it yet, but I’m getting better at appreciating that it’s important to take time for ourselves, too!
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Having been a full-time academic for so long, taking my science skills and putting them to the general public seemed a bit daunting at first. As it turns out, I love talking about science and explaining how things works. Plus, I spent much of my career working with patients at the hospitals and teaching undergraduates, so that background gave me a lot of translatable experience in writing and speaking on science topics overall. But particularly as scientists are often stereotyped as not being social, I’m especially excited when I can not only change the way people think about a topic, but hopefully I can also show them that scientists come in many flavors. Especially as we diversify who enters the science world, we get broader personalities and values, which is really good. I’m super excited to be a part of that!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I live in Colorado, so we’d be in the Rocky Mountains! We’d probably go rock climbing or backpacking, maybe near some alpine lakes as they are absolutely beautiful. There are also lots of local breweries (kombucha for me, I like CO’s Rowdy Mermaid!) that have food trucks and lawn games, so we’d probably hang out there for a while, too.
Mostly, if you’ve never been to Colorado, getting outside is the real draw. Whether it’s Rocky Mountain National Park or the San Juans — or anywhere in between — we have so many outdoor adventures waiting!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
There are lots of people in my life who have supported me along the way. During COVID-19, it’s been my core friends and a group I connected with on MeetUp.com. It’s a weekly game night and everyone is so amazing, it’s a wonderfully supportive community. Having been disconnected from so much social time, I’ve really appreciated the group positivity they bring me each week!
Linkedin: Trish Zornio
Facebook: Trish Zornio
#1 (blue sweater) Mark Teboe (says in bottom right) #2 Taste of Science podcast, no photography credit needed #3 at water fountain, Holly Hursley Photography #4 on rocks with mountains, Heidi Howard Photography #5 Telemundo (tv) interview, no photography credit needed