What is your current Job Title or Role?
Senior Technician (LABplus), Faculty of Science and Engineering
What advice would you have for young women who are interested in a STEM career or job?
Never give up on perusing a career or job within a subject area that you love. There will undoubtedly be set-backs and challenges along the way, however overcoming these can lead to something unexpected and rewarding. To spend time doing a job that you enjoy and especially one that inspires you is very special.
How did you get to where you are today?
For as long as I can remember I have been fascinated by nature and natural history. I am not ashamed to admit that I kept garden snails as pets and reared frog spawn in my garden! Geography and Biology therefore quickly became my favorite subject areas at school, alongside performance studies. I did not however find school particularly easy. Despite my understanding and interest in biology and natural sciences, I have always struggled with dyslexia, making exams and coursework difficult. This lead me to give up studying Biology at A-level, which I found hard at the time. Following my A-levels, I went on to study Geography at University which was definitely the right decision for me. Geography encompassed so many areas of science that interested me including biological conservation and climate changes. The practical nature of the course which included fieldwork, laboratory practicals and workshops enabled me to enjoy the process of learning again. After graduating I applied for a job as a technical assistant at the University of Plymouth within their Faculty of Science and Engineering. I now manage a facility that supports students studying all aspects of science including Biology! I have been a technician for 10 years now and most importantly I still enjoy learning!
What do you do on a daily basis in your work?
My role is extremely varied, making day to day life as a technician interesting and sometimes unexpected. I manage a facility called LABplus which is an open access laboratory for students studying science and engineering subjects. The idea is to give students a space to access equipment and explore resources in their own time. My day could therefore involve anything from helping students with microscope work to assisting with an element of their dissertation project. I also help academic staff create learning resource packages for LABplus. These packages usually contain materials, specimens and information relating to any science or engineering topic. For example I am currently working on an 'Introduction to fossils' resource for Geology students and a 'Micro plastics' resource for Marine Biology. My contribution usually includes preparing samples, sourcing equipment and helping to write supporting materials and guidance. In addition to the core elements of my role I often run science taster workshops for visiting school and community groups, last week I ran a session on crime scene investigation. Through this experience I teach and mentor undergraduate students on science communication and I co-ordinate the Faculty work experience programme.
Who or what inspired you to get into STEM?
My parents both played key roles in sparking my interest in science. My Mum trained as a radiographer, a job that she thoroughly enjoyed and my Dad really influenced my 'love of the outdoors'. He is an avid fan of nature programmes and a keen gardener. Going for long walks and attending science and nature clubs at my local park inspired me to stick with the subjects that I enjoyed, despite challenges at school.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
Working at a University means that I am surrounded by new research and inspirational people. Science is an ever changing and evolving discipline that encourages you to keep on learning. The best aspect of my job is therefore having the opportunity to keep on learning and supporting students to do the same.
What do you like to do outside work?
It is probably not surprising that outside of work I like to be outdoors! I enjoy walking, trail running, kayaking and surfing. I recently tried climbing for the first time which was a challenge, I am not a fan of heights! I mostly love to travel....grab any opportunity that you have to experience somewhere new, you don't necessarily have to go far.