What is your current Job Title or Role?
PhD Student in Antarctic Marine Geology
What advice would you have for young women who are interested in a STEM career or job?
Never underestimate the value of asking. If you don't ask, you may miss out on so many opportunities that you'd never even know about. Also, don't put limits on yourself unnecessarily. If there's something you're interested in, pursue it. Don't allow anyone to tell you that you're not smart enough or you don't have what it takes. You do! If you feel like you don't belong, (impostor syndrome can be crippling) it probably means you absolutely do. When you work hard enough and want it badly enough, you'll achieve things that'll surprise even yourself. My mum always told me that 'The World is your oyster!'-you are in the position to take the opportunities that life has to offer you.
How did you get to where you are today?
A lot of hard work, but mostly passion and perseverance. After graduating from Bangor University with a Masters in Oceanography, I decided to dedicate my time to applying for PhD projects so that I could continue research in Marine Geology and specialise in Antarctic Science. It took two years of interviews, part-time jobs and voluntary research to get where I am now, and I'll never look back! I ended up doing some amazing volunteer work in hydrodynamics laboratories, on research cruises and at other research organisations. My personal favourite was working with the Polar Oceans team at the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge. In my spare time I even got to help out with processing some of the 2000 year-old ice cores in the ice chemistry laboratory. I never would have had the opportunity had I not asked the right person at the right time if they were looking for extra help.
What do you do on a daily basis in your work?
Your daily routine as a PhD student is always evolving and will change as you progress through your course. I usually start my day by reading emails and forming a plan for what I want to achieve. Then I might spend some hours in the laboratory processing my samples, meet with my supervisor or research group, attend a short training course or read a few scientific papers.
Who or what inspired you to get into STEM?
My parents were very encouraging of my interest in nature from a very young age, ranging from astronomy to many other topics. In particular, they bought me a book called 'The Atlas of Natural Wonders' by Rupert Matthews. Even though I was too small to read, I would love to stare at the pictures of beautiful geological formations, national parks and ice shelves and think about how they got there. As I grew older I would read it over and over, and it instilled in me a sense of awe and curiosity about the natural world that remains to this day. I always loved the chapter on the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica the most, and here I am studying the Ross Sea for my PhD project. I see the beauty in the world around me and I am driven to constantly learn more about it. STEM provides an amazing opportunity for people with these types of passions to pursue them as a career.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
I enjoy the diversity in my role- it's not just sitting behind a desk reading all day. I have the opportunity to have engaging conversations about my PhD topic with people. I can satisfy my practical side by completing lab work. I deliver presentations to promote interest and understanding in my topic and in STEM. I have the ability to travel for research and meet new people in a global network of Antarctic scientists. I have access to library resources and online resources that I wouldn't normally. I love every part of my job!
What do you like to do outside work?
I enjoy hiking, spending time outdoors near the sea and travelling. I have also recently starting climbing and bouldering, which is great fun and works out all the knots from a hard week's work!