Women in STEM: Dr Zoë

Dr Zoë in the lab

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!

I was tested for COVID-19

School in my region (SouthTyrol, Italy) reopened on September the 7th. I teach science in a high school and this year I have 7 classes. This summer I was a bit worried because since March I had almost no contacts with people outside my family.

To be honest, even inside my family. I haven’t hugged or kissed my father and my grandparents since March and when I visit my relatives we all wear our masks.

With the beginning of school, I was positively impressed by the level of organization to keep students and teachers safe. Everyone is doing its own best to stay safe and keep the others safe.

But one student tested positive, and then another one and another one. As soon as one student tested positive, the whole class is quarantined and all students are tested. Teachers who lectured the class in the days before the quarantine are also tested.

And so, last Monday I went to the hospital camp organized for the swab tests. I had my appointment at 3 p.m.. The nurse swabbed my throat and my nose. The she gave me a code to check my result online.

At 3.05 p.m. I was walking home.

My swab was sent to the lab and analyzed via RT-PCR. If you want to know how swab tests work, have a read here!

On Wednesday I had my result: negative!

The result of my swab test

On Saturday I did a second test to confirm the result, and, again, it was negative.

I was quite sure about it because I never put myself in a dangerous position. I had no human contacts with the exception of my partner and my daughter. I always wash my hands and clean them with the hydro-alcoholic solution. I put my mask when I am home and took it off when I am home again.

I am an introvert, so I don’t mind to keep distance, avoid human contact and social occasions, but still, it is not always easy to behave in this “unnatural” way.

But it is the only thing that we can do.

Until we have a vaccine, we only have three weapons to fight COVID-19:

  • wash your hands
  • keep the distance
  • wear a mask
#WearAMask

Cases are rising again in all Europe, the second wave is already here and it is scary.

Be considerate and #staysafe.

Women in STEM: Dr. Arti

Dr. Arti at Natural History Museum UMICH

My 42nd is Dr. Arti, a passionate and dedicated science communicator.

Hi Dr. Arti! First of all would you like to tell us something about you?

Experienced multicultural and multidisciplinary scientist dedicated to science communication in all forms. “I am among those who think that beauty of science should attract everyone.” I have an ardent desire to apply my knowledge in science to positively impact people’s lives. My passion is to spread science both among the scientific and non-scientific communities.

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

I joined Twitter to promote science communication in 2020. Social media is a powerful platform for science outreach and communication.

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

I love my work as a science writer and communicator. The positives of this work outweigh the negatives and this thought helps me balance my work and private life. Of course having a fungal biologist as a supportive husband helps a lot.

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

I was fortunate to have women during my academic studies. Though I strongly missed a all women mentorship panel throughout my academic life. I think it is needed for every women in STEM.

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

Yes definitely. Growing up in a conservative society was the beginning of my struggle.

How did you become passionate about science? 

I found solace in Science since my childhood. Its simplicity and the process of finding solutions to problems attracted me the most. I think I continued in academia to gain more insight into science communication and writing. Now I use my skills as a scientist to promote and advocate science communication to society.

Dr. Arti at Science Forum

Would you like to talk briefly about your job?

Yes. I love talking about science communication and writing.

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

Dare to dream big. The power to overcome obstacles in your way to achieve those dreams comes from your passion itself.

Follow Dr. Arti on Twitter and on LinkedIn.

Dr. Arti during a scicomm event
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