I’ve loved science all my life. I remember having a real fascination with nature particularly, and how ecosystems worked together.
My degree was in forensic science, which I chose not only because it was interesting, but also because I wasn't ready to specialise in one field just yet. Forensic science gave me a broad base for my future career with underlying themes surrounding how to problem solve, identify patterns and trends and analyse evidence critically.
After a couple of years working in pharmacology, I joined Sellafield in the analytical services plant control labs. This was a great opportunity to practically apply the skills I’d learned elsewhere.
I worked within a great team and I enjoyed the challenges that came with working in one of our older facilities. It instilled the importance of innovation and resilience and I am grateful to those that allowed me to develop in these early days of my career at Sellafield.
Throughout my career I’ve looked to develop my skills. When I became a chartered chemist, I looked to how I could share my passion with others, which led me towards the Sellafield STEM ambassador network. This is a group of employees who work with schools to promote STEM to their students.
These students are the scientists of the future. They’re the ones that will continue and build on our work to further deliver the Sellafield mission.
However, I remember from my own experience that there were too few inspirational role models for female scientists. I don’t remember STEM sessions when I was at school.
I’ve been promoting STEM for a few years now, and I've tried to extend our reach. I’ve been running sessions with pre-school aged children. In these, I have used fairy tales and children’s stories to try and capture the imagination.
I teach the science of cosmetics to teenage girls, lecture graduates at the University of Cumbria and also judged at the Salter's Chemistry Festival. It's all about demonstrating just how relevant science is to everyday life.
Amazingly I've also been recognised on an international stage and named as one of the top 20 female scientists in the Global Shaker Women in Science list. I feel incredibly proud and humbled to be listed alongside such inspirational women.
I'm very lucky that I’ve been supported on this journey by both the company and the Women in Nuclear network. This is another group who are committed to opportunities for all and removing barriers to the nuclear industry. They have been an incredible support to me over the last few years and I'm so grateful.
My top tips to STEM success
Being curious is a fantastic, natural trait we should also seek to grow and never be afraid to ask the question if we are unsure.
Sometimes women are expected to behave in a certain way, especially if they’re in a traditionally male environment. Don’t believe this. Women bring a different set of skills and points of view; authenticity shines.
This will help your development and will also help others who seek support. Your confidence will grow in turn.
Be a STEM ambassador
It gives you the skills you need in life and can really help to give some purpose to our work, when ultimately, we want to ensure that our children can live in world free from stereotypes or limitations on options because of background.
We need STEM ambassadors to be the catalyst that sparks change.