My 43rd guest is Dr Zoë, an analytical chemist, who develops new technology to help keep water supplies safe and a mental health advocate.
Hi Dr Zoë! First of all would you like to tell us something about you?
Hi, I’m Zoë. I am an analytical research scientist in industry working on designing new technology to help keep our water supplies safe. I am also a mental health advocate, working to improve academic mental health and ensure that higher education is accessible to all. I love a whole host of things outside of work, including gardening, baking and archery.
When did you start your Twitter account? How did you get the idea?
I started my Twitter account about 10 years ago, but it lay largely inactive for a long time. At some point I started talking about academic mental health and realised that mental health is something that resonates with a lot of people. From there I started to design posters covering mental health issues people face in STEM and wider academia, and my followership has snowballed from there. I find social media an amazing resource to connect with people in my field.
Can you tell us something about how you balance work and private life?
I set really strict boundaries. I don not work on weekends unless there is an absolute crisis, and protect that time heavily. I also strongly believe in not hiding who I am as a person entirely from view either during my work – I have my own biases and acknowledging that means I can be a better scientist.
During your academic studies how many women were in course? Why in your opinion?
During my undergraduate the gender ratio was very balanced. As I progressed through academia I saw less women in senior positions. This isn’t something I can neatly summarise as to why this is the case – it is multifaceted. What I can say is that there is still a long way to go.
Have you ever felt harassed or being kept apart as a scholar because you are a woman?
Me personally, no. But I have to acknowledge that it exists. There’s still a lot of work to be done to ensure safe working environments and ensuring that people that come forward are treated with respect and listened to.
How did you become passionate about science?
I’d love to say there was this one major moment that really put me on the trajectory of science, but there really wasn’t. I am quite analytically minded and science suits me well. I enjoy learning new things about the world around me.
Would you like to talk briefly about your job?
I am an analytical chemist by background, and did my PhD in electrochemical sensor development. I now work in the “Advanced Technology Group” in my company looking for and creating new technologies for the water industry.
Thank you so much for your time. Lastly, can you give any advice to girls interested in STEM?
If someone tells you don’t belong – prove them wrong!
Follow Dr Zoë on Twitter!