This blog is part of our #PeopleOfRobogals series. This series highlights our volunteers from across the organisation, from our chapters to our leadership team and board members.
Robogals is made possible by our amazing volunteers from across the globe, ranging from students to professionals of all genders, ages and backgrounds. We come from a wide range expertise from engineering to law to commerce and are all united under the cause of gender equity in engineering and technology.
Why did you pursue a career in Science and Biotechnology?
This is a bit of a cliché answer but since primary school, I’ve always wanted to be a scientist. However, back then my idea of a scientist was a person in a lab coat in a top secret laboratory (like in movies and video games) with a diverse background knowledge including Mathematics, Physics, Biology and Chemistry! In middle school, I realized that dream was a tad unrealistic and since I needed to specialise I went for Biology with Chemistry rather than the other two. In high school, I was expected to do Medicine with my knowledge but was more interested in the research side of the field. That was due to my fascination with stem cells, which made me choose to pursue a degree in Biotechnology – the study of living organisms for commercial applications such as Regenerative Medicine.
Funnily enough, I was introduced to stem cells through a comic book series called Lazarus, which explored the cool things that might be possible with unlimited regenerative potential. I guess you never know where you might find inspiration!
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I cannot imagine where I will be in five years, let alone ten! But most likely I’ll have finished my doctorate at the Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine in Edinburgh. Depending on my future outlook on academic research, I might become a principal investigator either in a research facility or a company. Preferably somewhere in Switzerland or Austria, or even Japan. The beauty of research is the collaborative and international climate fostered around the world. I think I might also have a mentee around that point, much like other researchers, male and female, mentored me during my time at university.
How did you become involved in Robogals?
At the Freshers Fair, during my first year of university, I saw a Robogals Manchester volunteer showing off a ‘puppy’ LEGO robot. I was fascinated by the robot and immediately drawn to it (I love LEGO and cute animals), which prompted me to sign up to the society. Because I wanted volunteering experience to increase my employability and also found the robotics workshops really fun, I went to pretty much every workshop that year. It was a great time.
What are some of your favourite memories volunteering with Robogals?
One of my favourite moments was organising Robogals Manchester’s annual participation at the Deer Shed Festival in Thirsk. I never expected the avalanche of kids we got to meet over the three-day, family-friendly festival and how quickly the time passed by teaching robotics. For the festival, I built a LEGO MINDSTORM guitar which was especially loved by the younger kids and perfectly showcased the ultrasonic (distance) sensor on the robots. Most of my committee attended and we bonded over games and food during the evenings which was also my first camping experience. When we returned the following year, I remember being utterly amazed at how many children remembered us from the previous year! They wanted to programme robots with us again and participate in other scientific activities during the festival. I was thrilled to have had a hand in inspiring them.
As Regional Mentor of the EMEA region, are there any unique challenges that you believe local chapters face in your region?
Most of our chapters in the EMEA region are based in England where they face a lot of competition from other gender equality projects and societies. Of course,, that is not overall a bad thing, as it shows that many students are passionate about inspiring more women in STEM. But this has made it harder for Robogals to spread in England. Furthermore, a lot of companies also have their own programmes for promoting equality nowadays and I have noticed decreasing sponsorship interest over the years. However, the robotics workshops provided by Robogals are still found to be an interesting activity by many schools and parents.