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GALAXY OF HER OWN CELEBRATING WOMEN IN STEM

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GALAXY OF HER OWN B E K S M AT T H E W S


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M O V I N G M AT T E R [ 0 1 ] P R O F E S S O R K A R E N H O L D F O R D [ 02 ] DR HELEN BELL [04] DR YI JIN [06] D R D AY N A M A S O N [ 08 ] VIRGINIA D’EMILIO [10] DR EMMA RICHARDS [12] D R Z U YA N W U [ 1 4 ]

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D R K AT H E R I N E H O L D F O R D [ 1 6 ] D R V I C TO R I A G A R C I A R O C H A [ 1 8 ] PROFESSOR ANGELA CASINI [20] D R R E B E CC A M E L E N [ 2 2 ] DR HONG QI [26] E L E A N O R H A M I LTO N [ 3 0 ] D R C AT H E R I N E W I L S O N [ 3 2 ] C L A I R E H A M I LTO N [ 3 4 ] N E V E R T H E L E S S , S H E P E R S I S T E D [ 36 ]

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M O V I N G M AT T E R WOMEN IN STEM

For me, I remember some of the best times in school, being in my chemistry lectures, my teacher Miss Williams showed me a way of understanding and learning that kept me excited for each new topic. I had a habit of reading ahead in most of my topics and science was no different, soon I was spending a lot of my free time reading up on the latest studies, the history of science and the people that made it so. One thing stuck out to me though, where were all the women?

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In my eyes, Miss Williams was the best teacher ever, so why weren’t there women like her showing up in our textbooks? Studies have proven that children and young adults in education are more likely to succeed if they have relevant role models in their chosen field, and whilst gender doesnt always determine who your role models are, representation is key. A Galaxy Of Her Own is a collection of profiles aiming to celebrate the incredible women working within STEM* and changing the face of what it means to work in STEM today. There is nothing that can stop a young woman when she puts her mind to it, this is proof.

*Science, technology, engineering and mathmatics

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PROFESSOR KAREN HOLDFORD

MEET PROFESSOR KAREN HOLDFORD: 02

“I am a chartered mechanical engineer by background and I’m a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering which is one of the highest kind of conclaves you can have as a as an engineer. I am currently the Deputy Vice Chancellor of Cardiff University which means essentially I’m second in command of the university part of the university leadership team.” WHAT DREW ENGINEERING?:

YOU

TO

“I was always interested in taking things apart. My parents say as a child I used to just take everything apart to see how it works. I was always curious about things. And so I think that was in my in my nature and my character but I think when I was around about seven there was a couple of things that really changed my work, and made me feel like I would/should do

science or engineering. One of them was the fact that man landed on the moon which was an incredible experience to see. I can remember being sat around the telly watching it and the questions I had were ‘how did they get there? what did they have to do to get there? How did they build a rocket?. How did they make that happen? How are they going to get home? I was always asking how does that happen? and how can i make that happen? Then secondly, that same year, Concorde had its first flight and it actually flew over my house, I was absolutely fascinated by airplanes, I always liked things that moved, I liked my pushbike when I was younger and would take it apart and see whether I can make it go faster. And then I had a motorbike and then a car and so on. I was always interested in things that moved and how they moved and how I could make them better.”

ANY ADVICE? “I would say find out all of the different jobs that you can do because engineering is not one thing; there’s so many different things and I think by understanding what you might do as an engineer it helps you kind of create your own vision of what you want to do. I would also say don’t be put off. One of the biggest things that people still tell girls, even in 2019, is that science isn’t for them or it’s unusual to be a woman scientist. It is absolutely not. There are many brilliant girls and women doing engineering and science and it’s an absolute misperception that there aren’t a load of us doing great things.”


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WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT WORKING IN ENGINEERING? “One thing that I love is that you solve problems so you make a difference. By making things better or by solving the problems you’re really making a difference to the world. I love the fact that I’m always working as part of a team, you change the world together.” DREAM PROJECT “I would like to work on energy projects. So for instance, tidal barrage lagoons, because in this country we’ve got the greatest sort of tidal range such as the River Severn, we’ve got so much power that is in the sea. But I don’t think we’re harvesting it enough. Coal and gas are going to run out and they’re polluting our atmosphere and so on. So I think I would be working on green energy projects if I could.”

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DR HELEN BELL MEE T DR HELEN BELL:: “I work in the lab alongside Dr Yi Jin as one of her post-doc’s, and work in the lab on a couple of different research projects. I also help to teach any undergraduate students we have in the lab and help them learn different techniques.” WHAT DREW YOU TO SCIENCE AND CHEMISTRY?

“I’ve always found Science really interesting because. there are always so many questions, like how do things work? And how does it happen? There are always more questions and more. detail. And I particularly liked the biochemistry side of things, the proteins, cells and what was going on in those cells.”

WHAT DO YOU CHEMISTRY?

LOVE

ABOUT

“The thing I love the most is that we always have an opportunity to do new and different things. There’s always something new to learn and try and apply. You get to do a lot of different things, and that’s exciting.”


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ANY ADVICE?

DREAM PROJECT:

“If you want to do it? Go for it. if it’s something you enjoy doing it’s something that. you can find rewarding. Something that gives you so many different options different research oppertunities, something that you can go anywhere in the world with, why not do it?”

“I’d love to work on something that. had a very direct application to health. So I would want to work on.something that helps cancer research, particularly the proteins that are involved with cancer.”

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DR YI JIN MEET DR YI JIN: “I’m a university Research Fellow and a Principle Investigator. Along with my two post docs, we work on using chemical biology approaches to solve antibiotic resistance. and basic human health issues such as sepsis. We use a special approach to solve these problems.” ANY ADVICE?

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“Never doubt yourself, be confident in your abilities and skills.. Don’t see failure as bad but as a chance to learn, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. And when you see oppertunity, grap it with both hands, take the leap through an open door.”


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WHAT WAS IT THAT DREW YOU TO CHEMICAL BIOLOGY? “When I was growing up in China, I always knew I was strong in maths and physics, something I inherited from my fathers side, I chose to follow chemistry at university, to develop a real world application with science and working with organic chemistry. I worked with a very talented female academic, she was the youngest female academic in the Chinese academy of sciences, she became a role model for me in organic chemistry. I always thought my career would be as a chemist, but I met Professor Mike Blackburn who approached me and was looking for a chemist who understands phosphorus chemistry to join a group which is led by chemists, but would work more on proteins and I began a transition from organic chemistry to chemical biology.”

D R E A M P R O J E C T: “To me, I feel I have a responsibility in tackling antibiotic resistance. It’s a very complex problem, more complex than the public perceives it and people don’t realize how urgent it is. This is a worldwide problem because of the over use of antibiotics not only to humans but also to animals, so at moment I orient most of my research projects towards this direction.

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My expertise is to study enzyme mechanisms and facilitating drug design. So for example at the moment I’m working on OXA-48 which is a class D β-lactamasee that’s degrading antibiotics such as penicillin. My niche is tackling bacterial persistence. It is a phenomenon that would happen during the antibiotic treatment for the bacteria so they would go into hibernation to avoid the killing of the bacteria. That is my niche and my goal is to use all the knowledge I have, and all the techniques I am equipped with to study that. and overcome the issues they present.”

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D R D AY N A M A S O N

M E E T D R D AY N A M A S O N : “I’m the Royal Society of Chemistry education coordinator here in Wales. I’m one of two. Our role is to support the teachers of chemistry in Wales, and to support the engagement with chemical sciences. When we work with teachers, we try to help them engage the pupils. We also work with members of the Royal Society of Chemistry to take chemistry out of public.” WHAT DREW YOU TO THAT ROLE? “There’s not really any such thing as a typical day in the mine. That’s part of I think the beauty and the challenge of this role. One day I might be out going to a workshop with a whole lot of teachers showing them some of the resources that we’ve got. Recently I had 24 members come and help me to interact with the public at during the Cardiff science festival. So we were at the museum. We’re out busking on Queen Street. We went to a Games event. Something different every day. Part of what we’re trying to do with supporting teachers, is encouraging young students to

go forward with their studies. If we can support teachers then they can help the students see that actually there are careers in chemistry. That you can do a chemistry degree and then go on and have a really fulfilling job. You don’t have to just do pharmacy to be a pharmacist. You don’t have to do chemistry to do medicine and be a doctor. There are actually a lot of jobs that might be around the health industries, or it might be around pharmaceutical science. If that’s what you enjoy. Just know that it doesn’t have to be the typical route. You might change your mind down the road, that’s fine, your degree has transferable skills. If you enjoy the topic, you can find work that suits you, chemisty doesn’t have to be a person in a white coat.” WHAT IS IT THAT ATTRACTED YOU TO THIS AREA OF WORK? “I’m an Aussie. so I didn’t do a chemistry degree. I did a science degree and I did an arts degree. I have majors in chemistry, maths and drama. When you think about those together, the natural progression of that is to go into science communication and that’s what I did. I remember in school a group coming in

and doing a science show for us. Including things like having a gyroscope in a suitcase and then trying to turn, I loved it. So I went into science communication had a lot of short term contracts, that’s what brought me from Australia to the UK. I have a passion for chemistry, so eventually the Royal Society of Chemistry job came up, and it seemed like the perfect chance to get back to chemistry but continue to do the communication of science which is what I really enjoy.”

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ANY ADVICE? “Do what you enjoy, because you’re going to be working for most of your life. Do what you’d like, if down the track you change your mind. That’s absolutely fine. A lot of people change jobs every seven years anyway. So do what you enjoy. But don’t shy away from things just because it’s challenging because you know actually overcoming those challenges can be the most rewarding thing that you do.”

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VIRGINIA D’EMILIO

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MEET VIRGINIA D’EMILIO: “I’m from Italy, I moved to the UK in 2014 for university. I studied at Royal Holloway astrophysics as a four year degree with an integrated master. I did a few internships during the summers and one was in Cardiff in my second year. I really liked it here, so when I applied for my PHD I also applied to the University of Cardiff and I started my PHD in October 2018. “

WHAT DREW YOU TO SCIENCE? “My PHD is focused on gravitational waves, but more on the analysis side. Specifically estimating the parameters of the sources that generate gravitational waves. I was attracted to this particular field after the detection in 2016. I started being interested in science at a later stage than people start to be. I always thought I was really bad at math

and physics for most of my life. I actually failed maths in my second year of high school, I had to retake it in September. But then I had a different maths teacher in my third year of high school in Italy, and I started really enjoying it. At school they had this extra curricular course in spectroscopy, which I took and I thought it was really fascinating. Instead of reading a book about astrophysics astronomy things like it, I got to learn something, hands on. I decided you know what? If


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I actually put my mind to it, maths is fine, I can do it. So I applied to uni with a very basic knowledge of things, I didn’t even know calculus! It was really like, let’s see how it goes, but it went well and, at the end of my masters, I still wanted to learn, I was still curious.”

case anywhere. Do what you like and you will belong.“

ANY ADVICE? “Don’t be put off if you feel that you dont belong. There are people similar to you and I think that this could be the IMAGE CREDITS: NASA.GOV

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DR EMMA RICHARDS MEET DR EMMA RICHARDS:

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“I’m a research fellow in the School of Chemistry at Cardiff university. My research area is using magnetic resonance technique to try and understand how reaction mechanisms work. This is the magnetic resonance technique that uses a combination of microwaves, the same kind of energy that you get in your microwave oven at home. I also work in magnetic fields, to study the electrons in reactions to the electrons of subatomic particles. They govern very much how Reaction Mechanisms proceed, and what we try and do is understand how the electronics of a system can then help direct it’s chemical reactivity. One of the things that we want to try and understand from that, is can we make new chemicals in a rational way to try and make the reaction more selective or quicker? To then ultimately try and make reactions more environmentally friendly, cheaper and more affordable. I use a spectroscopic means of being able to try and understand how that reaction takes place.” WHAT DREW YOU TO SCIENCE? “I like the logic of it, I like that there is a right and a wrong answer for things. That was always something that fitted quite well in my brain when I was learning as a young pupil. Of course that’s never quite always the case when you go into doing research. There’s never a right or wrong answer! When I studied at university, I could never decide between chemistry and physics

so I actually ended up doing a degree that allowed me to do both. I did a modular degree program called Natural Sciences at the University of Bath, and studied chemistry and physics right through for the three years of my degree program. I did a year in industry during that degree. As much as it was an interesting experience, it didn’t really grab my enthusiasm too much. Then when I returned to go off and do my final year, we did a final year research project, whch I did that on desensitised solar cells. So I was making these little devices that take the energy from the sun and turn it into electricity. And I just thought that was brilliant. I was really motivated by that. I really enjoyed getting into the lab to do the hands on work there.” ANY ADVICE? “Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it. There are plenty of us working in all different areas of STEM now. In a school you can very much just get sort of ring fenced into thinking; it’s just chemistry, just physics, just biology. And potentially some of the things that schools look at these days is not really demonstrating the variety of careers that you can go into, if you choose to study any of those areas. Of course, physics, engineering and maths are great, there is a massive range of careers available to you at the end of that. So don’t be intimidated by that and spend some time thinking about what it is that you actually enjoy studying in school. And why you enjoy studying it and then explore all the potential opportunities out there”


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D R Z U YA N WU

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M E E T D R Z U YA N W U “I’ve just graduated from studying my PHD in Australia. I now work with Dr Yi Jin as a postdoctorate research assistant, studying enzyme structures and how they can relate to diseases. I am really interested in the study of diseases and how we can beat them. “ WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO SCIENCE? “I’ve always thought that it was the coolest area I could work in, I get to do research and expand on my ideas. I can find and discover new ideas, and go on to study the details. It’s exciting to be able to contribute to these new studies and I get to look at work and see that I’ve helped with these problems.”


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ANY ADVICE? “You need to be interested in what it is you want to work in, and have an understanding of what the field, that you are interested in, is like. If you know what you’re going into then you can prepare. Working hard is the most important part, you’ll spend a lot of time in the lab so be prepared to work hard on your own ideas. “ DREAM PROJECT: “I would love to work with medicine, and to combine what I work with now with medical schools and practitioners to be able to provide help in clinics and with diseases. “   |  ISSUE ONE


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MEET DR KATHRINE DOOLEY “I’m a physicist. I work at Cardiff University school of physics and astronomy. My research interests concern gravitational wave physics. You may have heard of this recently in the last few years, as there was a discovery of gravitational waves, which proved Einstein right after a hundred years of him predicting that they should exist. I do both research, designing and

building the instruments that make these measurements, along with teaching lectures. Both aspects are something I love very much. What I love about teaching is being able to have contact with curious, creative people who who are just beginning their careers and that you can really have a role and in helping shape their trajectory and be a role model.“

WHAT AREA ARE YOU WORKING IN? “At the core, what we’re building are optics experiments. So we have lasers and mirrors. What we use, is the fact that we know that light travels at the speed of ligh,t in order to use it as a as a way to measure length. So we shine the laser at some mirrors some distance away. In the case of the detectors that are up and running today, its about


DR K AT H E R I N E DOOLEY

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two and half miles away. That light gets reflected off the mirror and then measured. Of course that changes length as the mirrors move. Massive accelerating objects like black holes, which are orbiting one another, and colliding into each other. Or dense objects like neutron stars, which are spinning or orbiting and colliding with each other. They produce these ripples like ripples in a pond. and as they propagate and eventually pass

through the earth, they do create a change in the distance between two objects like two mirrors for instance. My work has to do with how to get rid of all of the noises. Noises meaning, things that would make these mirrors move that are not gravitational waves.” ANY ADVICE? “Don’t be put of by being one of the only girls, I’ve definitely experienced being a minority

both in the USA, Germany and now the UK, the ratio of men to women is wide but I want you to know you can do it.” DREAM PROJECT: “I think it’d be wonderful to get to see a detector built in Europe for the next generation of detectors. I like hands on research. I like being able to play with the instruments.”

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DR VIC TORIA GARCIA ROCHA MEET DR VICTORIA GARCIA ROCHA: “I’m a chemical engineer, I did my PHD in material science, in relation to carbon and ceramic materials. I did a few years of postdoctoral research with a few different institutions back in Spain. In 2012, I moved to the UK and worked with the University of Bath in chemical engineering, before being awarded the Marie Curie Fellowship by the European Commisson, to do a project with the Imperial College in London for two and a half years. Following this I was given lectureship by Cardiff University. Here I have two jobs, teaching and research, which for me is trying to find out new nobel composite materials, with applications in transportation, for example, with ceramic bearings. “

WHAT IS IT THAT DREW YOU TO ENGINEERING? “I was very interested in maths chemistry and physics. One of my high school teachers inspired me, and she said that engineering would be a degree I would excel in, and give me more opportunities. My father used to have a workshop at home, myself and my sisters used to go and use the tools, and I realised that I loved being able to build things and create useful things. Looking back that definitely had an impact on me.”

think and if you want to do it, there is nothing that should stop you. To be an engineer isn’t related to your gender, if you love it, do it!”

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ANY ADVICE? “You have to be prepared to work hard, because you have three different jobs in one,. Teaching, researching and administrative work. If you like working hard, and you love what you do, you can do it. It’s a really fun world to work in, it’s more creative than you would

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PROFESSOR ANGELA CASINI

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MEET PROFESSOR ANGELA CASINI: “I’m a chemist. I started my studies in Italy several years ago. I’m from Florence and so I undertook my Master’s degree and then a PHD in Florence. In 2008 I left Italy to move to Switzerland for four years, within a research position. I then got my first Assistant Professor postion in the Netherlands, in which I worked for four and half years. I was then given my

position here, in the University of Cardiff, as Chair of Medicinal and Bio- organic Chemistry. I’m still working with chemistry, but in biometric applications. A lot of our studies are really fundamental in terms of understanding mechanisms, we hope that we will progress towards real world applications.”


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WHAT DREW CHEMISTRY?

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TO

“I was drawn to a lot of things during high school. I had a Professor of Chemistry who was really funny, and when it came to choosing my university studies, I thought to try Chemistry - it just clicked! I love that Chemistry is a continuous discovery, there are always new things you can learn and discover. This learning process is something that attracted me

within STEM. I have noticed that there is a difference between the UK and Italy, in how women in STEM are treated. I became more aware of it in the UK as the ratio of women in the industry is lower. I hope that in the next generation we will see this change. “

work hard. It’s only through knowledge and time that you can learn new things. It’s about patience and dedication to the work. This is a great industry to work in because there are always new people joining, with new ideas and projects. You get older but the work carries on.”

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DR REBECCA MELEN

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MEET DR REBECCA MELEN: “I am a Senior Lecturer in Chemistry at Cardiff University. I’ve been here for five years. My research is in organic chemistry but more towards organic synthesis. My background is in the chemistry of the P block, which is the right hand side of the peridoic table. Traditionally these elements are a bit more obscure, especially if you’re looking at things like arsenic. People often associate these with things with being toxic, and as a result don’t really work with them. “

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“I’ve been working with these elements, and also more recently elements like boron, aluminum and phosphorus, trying to use these elements in kind of reactions which are more typical of precious metals. I look at catalysis, these catalysts increase the ratio of chemical reaction. Usually, these are based upon precious metals so things like platinum, palladium and iridium. I think the classic example that people know about is catalytic converters. Recently people have been stealing them, because they’re made of precious metals so they’re expensive. So I’m trying to do cataylysis with things that are more abundant and cheaper, to replace those metals.” WHAT DREW YOU TO CHEMISTRY? “I’ve always been interested in science, but I think that’s because my parents are both scientific. My father’s a mathmatition and my mother did microbiology at university. So I think I’ve always grown up with kind of that background. The type of science has changed, however, as I was growing up. Initially I wanted to be a vet, and then I changed from being a vet to studying biochemistry, then at university I did a natural sciences course, where you study all sciences.

When I started that, I thought I’m going to do biochemistry. But at the end of the second year, I decided I prefer chemistry and then moved into that field.

higher up you go the fewer women there are in these areas. I think finding talented female role models is so important for when you’re working. “

In academia especially, I love the freedom, it’s hard work and you have to be willing to put in the long hours, but I do love the freedom to travel and do a varied job. You get to travel to conferences, do talks, all the whilst doing your own research so this makes for a very exciting job, you don’t have a set idea of what a day looks like, which I love. “ ANY ADVICE?

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“I think it’s good to have role models. For me at school, it was my biology teacher. She was a very good role model. When I was in school, there was a perception that STEM subjects were uncool. That didn’t seem to bother me. I think my main focus was what I enjoyed, which was science, first and foremost. I think having female role models is always very key, especially when you’re younger. At university I only had two or three lecturers which were female, but then I didn’t really notice it, not until looking back. But I do notice it now I’m independent. I think when starting out my career it was very important to have female role models, like professors. This is because the

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DR HONG QI

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MEET DR HONG QI: “I am a Research Associate at the physics and astronomy departments in Cardiff University. I started working here in September 2018. Before that I did my PHD in the USA, at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee in the physics department. I’ve been

working on data analysis and astrophysics on gravitational wave astronomy. “ WHAT DREW YOU TO PHYSICS? “I think when I was little, maybe 5/6 years old, I was living in a somewhat rural area. The sky was very beautiful and looking at the stars fascinated me. I

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knew I wanted to do astronomy in the future. I worked hard, and I did it! I think it’s the unsolved problems and the unknown things that attract me. The stars, the formation and phenomena like gravitational waves are a very cutting edge and not many people knows about them.


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ANY ADVICE? “If a girl wants to go into this area of astronomy and astrophysics, she has to work hard at math, physics and also computer science. Nowadays we use computers to analyze data, because just using human hands to do the calculations is not enough. Some of the problems don’t have analytic solutions. Computers or clusters of computers can do these supercomputing equations, whereas human beings cannot. That’s if you want to become an astronomer or an astrophysicist. But also if later in your life, you feel that you are no longer intrigued as much as you used to be. You can still make a living on that, because the skills you learned in dealing with a lot of data, like terabytes of data, can be applied to industry as well. Some people not all of the astrophysics or physics PHD stay in academia. Some go to industry and become a data scientist or some software developer or go to a finance department. The options are endless. I love this area because it’s very cutting edge. I work in the LIGO

Virgo Collaboration, which is a collaboration working on gravitational wave related signs. Gravitational waves are a prediction of Einsteins, it’s the last prediction he made, and it was first directly detected and observed back in 2015. So quite recently, and the collaboration leaders, three of them, got the Nobel Prize in 2017 because of this first detection. There are several other Nobel Prize level fundings to be discovered in the future. So it’s very cutting edge and I don’t think I would want to change my area. It’s a worldwide collaboration. There are about 70 institutes like here in Cardiff University. Over a 1000 people globally working on this, and we collaborate with each other. So you really have to work hard to provide support to your teammates in a smaller group. Without the collaboration of 1000 people, the detection wouldn’t have been made. The search for gravitational waves had been going on for about 40 years. It cannot be done by a single person or a small group of people. So I really like the support that you get from others, and then you can contribute to it and then make some miracle.”

DREAM PROJECT?: “I wouldn’t leave the area I’m in now, with the limited time I have alive, I want to be able to contribute to the discovery of something great, and that can be done in this area. “

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E L E A N O R H A M I LT O N MEET ELEANOR HAMILTON: “I started here at Cardiff University in 2016, after doing a four year integrated master’s physics degree at the University of Oxford. I’m now apporaching the final year of my PHD, and this has been focused around the theoretical side of gravitational waves. I think I got started off like a lot of others, as a kid I liked problem solving and working out puzzles. That was most present in the scientific subjects at school. I went through wanting to be a forensic scientist, and then I’d find another area I wanted to do. Ultimately I had one very inspiring physics teacher at school, who had been an academic at an American university, and as a retirement project was teaching physics to young people. He was really encouraging, so that became something I decided I wanted to go into and I very much enjoyed my physics degree. I particularly

enjoyed the general relativity area that was part of that. So when I decided I wanted to apply for these projects I felt I really wanted to do something that was to do with relativity, but not necessarily in a direct way. Not so much observational astronomy or data analysis, but something that had a bit of theory in it, and still had a practical application. “

DREAM PROJECT: “What I work on at the moment is developing a cast of models for the system we study, something that would be really wonderful would be to focus on a particular course of systems that haven’t been studied so far and produce a model that really had some physical insight in it. “

ANY ADVICE?: “I think the thing that I like most about it, is also the thing that is sometimes is the most problematic. Which is the flexibility. It’s wonderful, if you find something you’re interested in, you can go off and spend days deep diving and looking at it. But equally if you’re just fixing a problem you can go home and keep working on it, which is great but you do have to find the right balance of how long you work in the day. It’s hard work but it’s so rewarding.“

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MEET DR CATHERINE WILSON: “I’m a Senior Lecturer in the School of Engineering at Cardiff University, my research area is environmental hydraulics. This fits in with the whole discipline of civil engineering. What we’re designing is some fish friendly hydro turbines for generating electricity in rivers.” WHAT DREW YOU TO STEM? “I suppose one thing was I was really good at it when I

was growing up, but I fought against it for quite a few years. I did plan to be an engineer when I was younger, but I always associated engineering with the smell of oil, diesel and petrol, you know kind of motor systems and aircraft. I didn’t really understand that this kind of area existed. Firstly, I trained to be an architect. I felt very lost with it and felt that there wasn’t enough quantitative aspects to it. But the structural engineering side I really enjoyed. So I thought

‘right I’m gonna be a structural engineer’ so I changed over to civil structure engineering course. I just felt really drawn to the water side of the industry, which I find a lot of women are, and went into environmental engineering. “ ANY ADVICE? “When you’re choosing where to go, and what to do, try to have a look if you could get some shadowing or work experience. Just to get out


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DR C AT H E R I N E WILSON

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there to see how things are done. Because quite often what you believe is one subject area is different, and if you can see what it is you enjoy it’ll make such a difference. I think use every opportunity that you get that comes your way, network and work hard. Don’t let other things get in the way, just focus on what you really want to do. Be confident in your abilities and don’t let other peoples preconceived notions of the industry, get in the way of your ability and strength.”

DREAM PROJECT: “I would want to build some an experimental river outside, like an experimental laboratory using real water from a river, and feeding it through the experimental laboratory. That’s always been my kind of plan for the future. I’ve worked in one of these facilities, quite a small one in Austria, where we held back lots of flow from snowmelt in a reservoir, and then flooded the channel to see what happened. So this is

larger scale than what I do here. What we’re trying to do in the lab, is recreate what happens in nature. One of the major problems is scale and size. We need fluids as big as possible to get these turbulent flows, to build flows that really kind of model what is happening within nature.”

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C L A I R H A M I LT O N

MEET CLAIR HAMILTON:

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“I work as a venue producer. I coordinate the technical aspects required in my venue during an event. My job is essentially to run the tech departments, I make sure everything is where it should be, when it should be. I’m choreographing each crew to work in harmony together, lights, sound, screens and cameras. WHAT BROUGHT YOU WORKING WITH TECH?

INTO

I did a degree in professional stage management and technical theatre. Having been involved with youth theatre from an early age, I found I enjoyed working backstage much more than being up front. My degree gave me a huge number of skills that I can draw on at any moment, But mostly help me to develop the ability to problem solve. If something goes wrong, I need to have enough knowledge

on each technical aspect to be able to either fix it myself or hand it over to who can. During a show, you can find me with a headset and cable ties, running about to make sure everything goes to plan. I love the fact thatmy work always changes. You don’t know what’s coming from one day to the next and there is always a new challenge to solve. I always want the technical elements in any event I’m involved with to enhance what’s going on but leave the audience hardly knowing they are there. ANY ADVICE? It’s great to have a passion in a single area but having a good understanding of the skills people using around you will make you valuable within the team. Keep asking questions and learning as much as you can. I used to try and be one of the lads but it’s so much easier when I’m just me. Know your skills and be proud of them, but it’s also key to know when

to hand over to someone who knows their area, don’t try and fix something if you don’t know it. There’s skill in knowing when to let the others around you use their talents. DREAM PROJECT: I would love to work on something huge where you only get one chance. Things like opening ceremonies of the Olympics. A show that you can’t put out of your mind, where you have a new favourite part everytime you watch it.


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NEVERTHELESS, SHE PERSISTED When you feel like you’re fighting an uphill battle, it helps to remember those women that came before you and broke down the walls. Remember Katherine Johnson, who calculated the trajectories for Apollo 11, despite every odd being stacked against her. Remember Lise Mietner, who jointly discovered nuclear fission, and despite her male co-worker solely recieving the Nobel Prize for their work, she carried on. Remember Mae Jeminson, who trained with absoloute focus to become the first African-American woman in space. The ceilings and barriers are coming down, young women are the future of STEM. The leading candidate to lead a mission to Mars is Alyssa Carson, a 17 year old girl who has trained her whole life to be ready.

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Success will require commitment to yourself. Working hard at what you love is what builds success, allow yourself to have confidence in your strengths, even though at times this feels impossible. Just because someone says you can’t achieve something does not make it true. Don’t be afraid of failure because failure is imminent, how you stand back up, that’s what counts.

WORK HARD AND FOCUS YO U W I L L FA I L AT T I M E S , GET BACK UP AND CARRY ON K N O W YO U R VA LU E , O W N YO U R S T R E N G T H S D O N ’ T L E T A N YO N E S TO P YO U F R O M D O I N G W H AT YO U LO V E


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K AT H E R I N E J O H N S O N

MAE JEMINSON

LISE MIETNER

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S E C T I O N [ 04 ]

THANK YOU.

IT HAS BEEN AN HONOUR TO WORK ON THIS PROJECT AND TO MEET ALL THE INCREDIBLE WOMEN FEATURED. I WANT TO SAY THANK YOU FOR ALLOWING ME TO COME AND INVADE YOUR WORK SPACES! FOR MORE INFORMATION ON WOMEN WORKING IN STEM, CHECK OUT THE PLATFORMS BELOW. http://www.millionwomenmentors.org

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https://www.wisecampaign.org.uk https://stemettes.org https://rocket-women.com

I N S TA G R A M . CO M / B E K S M

W W W. B E K S M AT T H E W S P H OTO G R A P Y. CO. U K

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GALAXY OF HER OWN EMPOWERING AND INSPIRING WOMEN IN STEM B E K S M AT T H E W S

Profile for PhotoJ_USW

Galaxy of Her Own by Beks Matthews  

Third year work by Beks Matthews celebrating the women in STEM. https://www.beksmatthewsphotography.co.uk/

Galaxy of Her Own by Beks Matthews  

Third year work by Beks Matthews celebrating the women in STEM. https://www.beksmatthewsphotography.co.uk/

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