Women in STEM: Lucy

Lucy in the lab

My 45th guest is Lucy, a science enthusiast, science communicator and a qualified NHS Biomedical Scientist.

Hi Lucy! First of all would you like to tell us something about you?

I’m Lucy, I’m 26 and a science enthusiast – I’m a qualified NHS biomedical scientist who wants to make sense of science

When did you start your Twitter and Instagram accounts? And your blog? How did you get the idea?

I started my Twitter first, then branched out into Instagram, and then decided to take the plunge and get my own blog. I always knew science comms was for me and I had no idea the power of social media back then! Its given me some incredible opportunities.

Can you tell us something about how you balance work and private life? 

To be honest, its a bit of a blend. My blog is my hobby – and my job is science writing so I never really switch off. Which for me, is healthy as its good to have hobbies outside of work – just turns out that mine is pretty similar. Winding down is something I’ve struggled with in the past – but spending time watching Netflix with my cat is the best remedy for me.

Lucy enjoying her free time

During your academic studies how many women were in course? Why in your opinion?

Honestly, I was one of only a handful of women who have gone on to utilise the science degree. In my opinion its not the most attractive degree for women and I noticed that although some of the lecturers were women, they often weren’t in the highest paid positions. (Although this has changed now – and I’m glad!)

How did you become passionate about science? 

My family has always encouraged, often difficult but open scientific discussion about our viewpoints. “Lucy, have you heard about stem cells?” “What do you think of animal testing?” “Lucy, have you seen they can do this in the lab?” Science has always been a point of fascination for me. And for that, I thank my grandfather. Sharing the scientific discoveries and curious facts in a way that I, as an eager 11-year old, could understand. As I grew up, my fascination grew deeper. I started to be the one asking the questions, if my grandfather had heard of the genome project or monoclonal antibodies? Had he seen that scientists have been able to help a quadriplegic move his fingers with a help of a chip in his brain? Its always been an underlying passion for me.

Would you like to talk briefly about your job?

I work for a small local charity in research communications – I love it.

Thank you so much for your time. Lastly, can you give any advice to girls interested in STEM?

GO FOR IT. There is nothing more rewarding than working in STEM!

Follow Lucy on Instagram, Twitter and her scicomm website.

Lucy and co-workers

Women in STEM: Pauline

Pauline and nature

My 44th guest is Pauline, a non-binary, neurodiverse science and social studies teacher, artist, computer scientist, amateur astrophotographer and so much more.

Hi Pauline! First of all would you like to tell us something about you?

I’m a female-presenting NB Science/Social Studies teacher who works with 4th grade students at a project-based learning STEM school in West Texas, USA. I’m also an artist, and sometimes use my art for Science purposes.

When did you start your Twitter account? How did you get the idea?

I started my Twitter a few years ago to document my journey with my students, and also to hook into all the other incredible science communicators and resources out there in the twitterverse.

Can you tell us something about how you balance work and private life? 

I try hard to not take work home in the evenings, and do my best to reserve at least one day of the weekend that is work-free. It gets hard sometimes – it’s difficult to get all the grading/lesson planning/communicating done during work hours, but family and self-care are essential, especially during this crazy Covid season.

During your academic studies how many women were in course? Why in your opinion?

I’ve done studies in a variety of fields (my major is religion, and my graduate work was done for a Masters of Divinity). For a while in college I was a Computer Science major, and I’ve taken quite a few courses in science. Many of my most important science professors were women, and during internships I also had bosses/supervisors who were women (I had a paid internship in college where I worked on code for the ISS/Space Shuttle through a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin). I did my computer science work at the University of Texas in El Paso, and I think that’s probably one reason why we had such a high number of diverse students, especially in the research groups I participated in (for AI).

Have you ever felt harassed or being kept apart as a scholar because you are a woman?

As a nonbinary person, I don’t think that I register the discrimination the same way women do. But I know that I’ve faced some before, and normally it feels foolish. I grew up in Los Alamos for my early years, where Science and critical thinking is a huge part of the culture, and I’ve loved science ever since I was very young. I think I’ve felt more discrimination because I think/process information differently than Neuro-typical people (I’m ADHD, and have trouble accessing academic information through text, or memorizing things). I started university as pre-med as a chemistry major, but had trouble learning the way they wanted me to. Now, I access most bedrock information about subjects through audiobooks/videos, and then dive into the academic texts when necessary – it makes a world of difference. I’ll also use a lot of graphic organizers to help lay out information, and this is a technique I use all the time with my students.

Pauline loves science!

How did you become passionate about science? 

I think from a very young age I felt closer to the natural world than to people. I also have a family that’s very involved in the hands-on aspects of science – my parents are gardeners, and my dad is an amateur astronomer (we do astrophotography together sometimes). Also, we took a lot of family trips where my dad would explain things like geology to me. Growing up in Los Alamos, I had almost unfettered access to the libraries at home and at school, and so I could indulge my curiosity in both the natural world around me and in books and conversation. Now, I love science because I love patterns. And the way the world works, and discovering more about the world. I love sharing information with my students and opening the world up to their curiosity, getting them to see beyond the surface to the forces and processes that lie beneath.

Pauline’s dad

Would you like to talk briefly about your job?

I’ve taught Science for several years, through several different grade levels. I’ve also taught math and reading, but I love Science the most (and how it pairs so nicely with Social Studies). I believe that every student is capable of amazing things, and part of my job as a teacher is to help empower them to develop their own individual talents. Science is all around us, and there are many ways to do science “right,” so it’s something accessible to everyone! One of the things I do every morning with my homeroom is the “Quote of the Day” – a quote, drawn from diverse sources, illustrated by a picture with our own character, Anonymouse (from anonymous). The kids love the Quote, and I feel like it helps to strengthen them as students and as people of character, helping broaden their horizons.

Thank you so much for your time. Lastly, can you give any advice to girls interested in STEM?

Remember that as a scientist and an engineer you are an innovator. You don’t need to become a carbon copy of anyone else. Though it’s important to master the basics of your field, do so because you have something unique to bring to that field – and perhaps even connect fields together. Everything is connected – don’t be afraid to draw on all of your experiences when facing a problem. You’ll be surprised at where the serendipity of inspiration will come from!

Follow Pauline on Twitter.

Quote of the day

Next week it will be my birthday

I am ready to celebrate

On November the 4th, I will be 34 years old.

As many of you maybe know, Facebook usually suggests you to organize a donation campaign for your birthday. This year I decided to go for it and the organization of my choice is AIL.

AIL is the non-profit Italian organization against leukemia-lymphomas and myeloma. Their mission is to promote and support research, improve patients and their families’ quality of life and provide direct assistance to patients in their struggle against blood diseases and to raise awareness of blood disease issues.

In 2018 my mother was diagnosed with leukemia, she got a transplant and 11 months after the diagnosis she died. I talked about this experience and my pain here.

If you are interested in giving me a birthday present, or just in making a good action, please consider to donate here:

https://www.facebook.com/donate/679787822920492/

Thank you so much to anyone who will give something. Anything.

Let’s fight leukemia to fuck leukemia!!!

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