Science Communication Masters student
Imperial College, London
What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
I think I always knew I would be involved in science from a very young age, I was always curious about the world and constantly eager to learn. It wasn’t until I was in secondary school that I realised physics was something very cool. My physics teacher, Mr. Lyng was a great inspiration for me. He taught with such enthusiasm and flare that it was impossible not to fall in love with physics. Once I got to university, the continuous support I got from the Cardiff physics professors and my supervisors throughout my time there was enough to make me believe that I ultimately belong in physics.
What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
There haven’t been many yet, but one that definitely stands out is my final year undergraduate masters project. I worked at the Velindre Cancer Centre in Cardiff where I teamed up with the radiation therapy treatment planning group. My retrospective project focussed on comparing three different treatment panning methods of radiation therapy for cervical cancer patients. One of these methods is currently used at the centre, and the other two were more advanced, more targeted forms of treatment. The comparison showed that there was much to be gained by using one of the newer methods at the hospital with the equipment they have available, and so they are now in the process of changing their treatment planning protocols.
Only one similar study like this had been done previously, so I was wading in fairly unchartered waters. This provided a great challenge, and was also quite daunting as I was unsure of where I was headed. I went into the project not knowing anything about it, and came out of it with a new set of tools, a great sense of pride and a lot of satisfaction. Presenting my results at my first conference was definitely the cherry on the cake. I am very pleased to have been able to work on a project that is directly applicable to patients, and that has the potential to help them on their road to recovery.
My mother is my role model, my hero. She has risen above and beyond what people expected of her and became a well respected woman in her field. She had to deal with many difficult people as a woman working in her industry, receiving less respect, pay and benefits than she deserved. Although she is no longer working, she will always be an inspiration to me.
Why do you love working in STEM?
STEM subjects provide me with a constant challenge; a continous journey to discovery which I find extremely exciting. The people who are in the industry are also something that makes working in STEM a fastastic place to be. They are so creative and passionate about what they do, it is a pleasure to be around them.
Advice for future STEMinists?
Don’t let yourself be forced into going down a career path that you aren’t comfortable with. Take your time to make decisions about what you want to work on and make sure you chose something that really grabs your imagination. Most of all, believe in yourself.
http://scienceseeker.org/ is a very nice website that allows you to have a read through thousands of science blogs which can make for some very fascinating reading. And for a good giggle, I like to have a look at the comics on http://www.phdcomics.com/comics.php.