10 things I have learned in my 26 years

Image may contain: 1 person, candles, indoor and food

This weekend, I turn the ripe age of 26. This year I have not only gained a few more wrinkles and grey hairs, but I have also learned a few things. As I approach the celebration of another year on this planet, I can’t shake feelings of sentimentality, and I am reflecting back on what I have learnt this year as well as the ones prior.

  1. I am powerful. That may be a big way of starting this list, and it may seem to lack humility, but we might as well kick this list off with something substantial.Throughout school, I was teased and made to feel inadequate, and I have to admit that several of my romantic relationships left me feeling the same. My confidence has been trampled on over the course of 2.5 decades, and this led me to doubt my ability to achieve things. But looking back on the last four years it has taught me that I am responsible for my own aspirations.I refuse to let others affect my trajectory and remain committed to achieving my goals. For that, I am powerful.
  2. Female friendships are incredibly important to me. I adore strong women, I want to surround myself with them and gain their strength via osmosis. Each of my friends teach me something different, about myself and about life.Society teaches us that women are bitchy competitors, jostling for male attention, poised to tear each other down wherever possible. My 26 years have taught me that this isn’t true. My female friends have been my shoulder to cry on, they have given me a slap around the face when I needed it and they have done nothing but celebrate in my achievements.
  3. Life is short. Real short. Don’t waste it and don’t hesitate in doing the things you aspire to, because you will only wonder why you didn’t do them sooner.
  4. Don’t waste time on people who don’t deserve it. Despite my 25th year of existence teaching me that life is very very short (please see thing 3), I spent a significant amount of my 26th year on this year giving time to those who aren’t worthy.This year has taught me to stop be amenable and accommodating towards people who don’t deserve it. Your time is precious, even if you wish to spent that time lying on the sofa. Please don’t spend it on people who wouldn’t give you a second thought.
  5. Wear SPF every day (I would like all of the points on this list to be poignant, but they wont be).
  6. Your beginnings do not define your endings. I was never really aware of my class growing up. I grew up in the middle of a rural farming community in west Wales, where everyone around me was the same. My school was adequate. From my knowledge it was a good school, but only in comparison to the other school within a 30 mile radius.When I got to university, I realised that I’m working class. I met people who had gone to private school and their school had a surplus of materials that they could offer them to enrich their learning. It was an alien world to me.It made me hyper-aware of my background and how people who went to my school were unlikely to go much further than that. Where I come from, moving to Cardiff is considered ‘moving to the big city’.

    However, this hasn’t defined me. Much like point one – I will try my hardest to prevent outsider influences from affecting my trajectory.

  7. Followers don’t equal success. It’s easy in this blogging business to get wrapped up in follower numbers. And although I have never been driven by the number of people in my followers list, I am not devoid from feeling the pressure.I never set up this blog to gain followers. I set up my blog to make a difference, even if that difference was to get people talking about the issues facing women in STEM. The growth of my followers didn’t matter to me, and it never has, but I do feel under pressure to build this audience.But after a lot of talking to myself, I have concluded that this doesn’t matter and ultimately the number of followers never matters. If you grow an audiences slowly, the chances are that that audience is loyal and is genuinely interested in your content. Whereas if you set yourself goals around followers and aim to get followers as quickly as possible, those people are going to be flippant and aren’t genuine.

    I have run my blog for four years and have a fraction of the followers some others have, but I have to revel in my success. I have achieved a lot through this wee platform, and I need to celebrate that my success hasn’t been for me. By working to make the landscape better for women in science, helping to shape policies that surround this industry and influencing legislation around science education for girls – my aims aren’t self serving, and this means I can forget about getting more followers for myself.

  8. I couldn’t care less about what other people think of my body anymore. I have been different shapes and at different levels of fitness and regardless of what I looked like, someone always had something nasty to say. So why worry about it? I have liberated myself of being conscious about my body because I’m safe in the knowledge that you can’t please everyone and it isn’t my job to.
  9. Work life balance is very important. At the end of last year, I wrote a blogpost called ‘Burned out’. I had worked myself to the bone and not taken a break in over a year. Each day I was either working on my blog, editing podcasts, editing YouTube videos or working my 9-5 job (or a combination of all four). This is not sustainable.Take time for you, because you ain’t getting that time back.
  10. 26 is not old. I am a planner. I like to know where I am heading and set aims. From a young age, I had this idea that I was going to get engaged at 25, married at 27, have my first child before I was 30. As I find myself hurtling towards 30 years old, without a partner but a promising career in hand, the thought of settling down and jeopardising that is terrifying.I thought 26 was old, and that I would feel my eggs dying like I was a slowly emptying vessel. Turns out, I have a few more wrinkles and a few grey hairs, but I still have acne and will still laugh at almost any fart joke. So I am saying farewell to the milestone aims and am saying hello to embracing what the next decade has to offer.I’m in my prime, and there isn’t any slowing down.
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmail

Galentine’s Day

It’s Galentine’s Day, the day in which we bathe in the light of female friendship, inspired by the terminally adorable Lesley Knope from Parks and Recreation. Female friendships are my lifeblood, and I have shamelessly leeched off of my gal pals to give me strength in moments where I have had none.

In a world where we brand women as hyper-competitive, bitchy and ready to tear each other down in an instant, celebrating women (and the power of women supporting each other) is the perfect counterattack on this misconception about female friendship. For that reason, I’m using Galentine’s Day to share some love for women in STEM on social media who I admire.

Sophia Pavelle

(Instagram: @sophiepavs)

Her Instagram bio reads ‘Zoologist, Wildlife presenter, Science Communicator and Adventurer’ – if that doesn’t get you interested, I don’t know what will.  She shares her adventures with stunning photography and videography, and I get great joy from observing her success in her field.

Her Instagram feed and YouTube videos make me feel like she breathes in the fresh air for me whilst I’m stuck in my office.

 

Michelle Barboza-Ramirez

(Instagram: michellembarboza)

An all-round badass, Michelle is a palaeontologist at Florida Museum and Founder of Femmes of STEM Podcast.

You have so much to learn from her, just by following her on Instagram, as she shares excavations and fossils, all perfectly partnered with amazing outfits.

 

Fit Scientist

(Instagram: @phdfitclub_)

From meal prep, to home workouts, to science, the Fit Scientist has got your back. She is inspirational in sharing she day-to-day life in the lab as well as her fitness journey. Whether you need some motivation to get off the sofa and to get into the gym, or to get your work done, a scroll through her feed will sort you out!

 

Nina Draws Scientists 

(Instagram: @nina.draws.scientists)

London-based illustrator of trailblazing female scientists.

When not at my desk or in the gym, I can be found in art galleries, and as a amateur artist in my spare time, STEM is incredibly important to me. I adore her style and her 10 heroines in STEM project was amazing to witness, and I would love to see her work turned into a zine so that I could own tangible versions of her art.

Please, just go and follow, you won’t regret it.

 

Meriame Berboucha

(Instagram: @meriameberboucha)

A fellow podcaster and science blogger, Meriame gives me daily inspiration. Her Instagram feed is perfection in communicating laser physics and branding. If you want to learn about personal branding for social media, have a scroll through @meriameberbouche.

And boy, can she sing!

 

Lisa

(Instagram: @lisa_inascienceworld)

A PhD student in Development Physiology, Lisa shares her experience in academia as well as surviving your viva. She is also the queen of getting to grips with that pesky work life balance.

Lisa is a fellow Crossfit fanatic and cyclist, giving me motivation in blogging world and the gym. I want to work out with her so badly.

 

Nicola

(Instagram: @freshscienceblog)

Cancer and molecular biology PhD researcher and writer, Nicola has been communicating science  through blogging with incredible consistency.

I have followed Nicola for what feels like forever, and she is another example of branding perfection. She is incredibly uniform in her image, and I’m a huge fan of her colour scheme, as well as her general attitude to using social media as a platform to promote science (and herself).

FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmail

Inside The Petri Dish | International Day of Women and Girls in Science

International Day of Women and Girls in Science

Welcome to a special episode of Inside the Petri Dish, the podcast that dissects science and takes a look down the microscope at controversial topics within research.

In this episode, Vicki Blight and Alice Gray interview Tay-Yibah Aziz about her work looking into why girls are less likely to study STEM subjects at school, to celebrate International Day of Women and Girls in Science.

Music Credit: Bensounds

 

FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmail

International Day of Women and Girls in Science

February 11 marks the UN’s International Day of Women and Girls in Science, an effort to achieve full and equal access to and participation in science for women and girls, and further achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.

Current statistics show that women make up only 23% of those in core STEM occupations in the UK and 24% of those working in core STEM industries (Wise Campaign). Not only has the number of women in science been low for centuries, but they have been failed through a lack of recognition for their work. To mark International Day of Women and Girls in Science, I wanted to celebrate some women from history who didn’t receive the recognition they deserved.

You will notice a common theme in these stories – women do groundbreaking work, and their male colleagues get the kudos (usually in the form of a Nobel Prize).

Nuclear physicist, Lise Meitner, was a vital research in the discovery of nuclear fission. For many decades, she collaborated with chemist Otto Hahn, but despite her signifiant contribution to this work, Hahn published their findings without acknowledging her work. Otto was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for spinning the atom, and Lise wasn’t recognised in her contribution.

Chien-Shiung Wu’s work turned the law of parity on it’s head and was a landmark moment in physics. This work was crucial in the development of the atom bomb and she is now valued as one of the most important physicists of the 20th Century. However, the 1957 Nobel Prize was awarded to Tsung-Dao Lee and Chen Ning Yang, despite her groundbreaking work.

Microbiologist Esther Lederberg developed basic techniques in the field of genetics that have been instrumental in understanding how genes work. Esther’s work played a vital role in her husband being awarded a Nobel Prize, but sadly she was not mentioned.

FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmail

Ep. 3 | Animal Testing – Nafisa Jadavji

Ep. 3 | Animal Testing – Nafisa Jadavji

Welcome to episode three of Inside the Petri Dish, the podcast that dissects science and takes a look down the microscope at controversial topics within research.

In this episode, Vicki Blight and Tay-Yibah Aziz have set Alice Gray another challenge to find out about animal testing in research through interviews with scientific experts, and this week we are joined by Nafisa Jadavji.

Stay tuned for next time, where we explore this topic further with another amazing guest.

Music Credit: Bensounds

FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmail

You can’t be what you can’t see

Role models are vital in our development, they allow children to ground their interests in a tangible goal. However, if the representation of those around us is limited, what we can see ourselves becoming is restricted.

Broadening the representation of women in our media enables our young girls to see themselves in new roles, especially when they are looking up to women that they can directly identify with. This is vital in ensuring that girls aspire to STEM roles, as it allows them to consider that as a potential career path for them.

The impending 26th anniversary of my existence has made me quite sentimental, and I have been thinking about the people who inspired me. I think of my role models came from a broad sample, and I think that is partly because the lack of women in the media during my childhood meant that I had to get inspiration from where I could.

But there are certainly a few women in STEM who were instrumental in my decision to pursue a career in science.

Michaela Strachan

I have vivid memories of staring up at the television, whilst sitting crossed-legged on a wine red carpet, watching Michaela Strachan on the Really Wild Show. I was adamant that I wanted to be just like her – I even wanted to wear a paw print necklace, parachute trousers and camouflage tops. I think she played a really big role in my aspirations to become a scientist, especially my interest in biology.

Dr Alice Roberts

As I matured, and my preferences for children’s TV programmes dwindled, but another woman in STEM on the BBC became a huge inspiration to me. Dr Alice Roberts’ programmes about anatomy fascinated me and, as someone who wanted to study at Cardiff University like she did, I latched onto her as a role model.

She still remains someone that I admire to this very day.

Mam

And finally, and probably the most influential woman in my life, my mother. My mum is sharp-minded, kind-hearted and empathic beyond belief. She nurtured me not only physically, but she’s also nurtured my personality. I was a stubborn little girl, sometimes shy, but ‘bossy’. I treasure that that wasn’t discouraged, because my defiance has become my greatest tool in life, and she propagated it.

She taught me how to be compassionate, she taught me to be fierce and she taught me to be thrifty; three attributes that have served me well in life.

 

Please leave a comment with the people who inspired you, I would love to know.

 

 

FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmail

11-year-old girl is America’s top young scientist

An 11-year-old girl has been given the accolade of ‘America’s top young scientist’ and awarded a £25,000 prize. Gitanjali Rao invented a cheap device to test drinking water, inspired to make the gadget after hearing about the plight of people involved in the Flint water crisis.

Flint, Michigan, faced tainted drinking water after companies cut costs, so Gitanjali designed the compact device to be cheaper and faster than current methods to test for lead contamination in drinking water.

After two years of research, Gitanjali noticed that the widely-used test strips would need a couple attempts before an accurate reading was gathered. Rao was inspired by research by MIT that used carbon nanotubes to detect hazardous gases in the air, and found that the carbon nanotube technique detected lead in water faster than the current tests.

She called her invention ‘Tethys’ after the Greek goddess of fresh water.

Gitanjali was awarded her award and £25,000 prize for her amazing invention that will have real life applications, in Flint and across the world.

A few years ago, I started sketching inspirational women in STEM to celebrate them, and because of her amazing work, I feel that Gitanjali deserves to be celebrated in this way as well.

FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmail

Inside The Petri Dish Podcast | Episode Two

The Inside the Petri Dish podcast begins are joined by a whole host of amazing conversationists and scientists to explore climate change.

Part 1) Climate Change – Rachel Smith

In episode two of Inside the Petri Dish, the podcast that dissects science and takes a look down the microscope at controversial topics within research, Vicki Blight and Tay-Yibah Aziz set Alice Gray another challenge to find out about climate change through interviews with scientific experts.

First we speak to environmentalist, Rachel Smith, a Environmental Scientist who works on the beaches of Hawaii.

Part 2) Climate Change – Adriana Coppola

In part two of our episode exploring climate change, we are joined by Adriana Coppola, a renewable energy engineer. She explains her work and how there are economic and gender gaps within climate change.

Part 3) Climate Change – Benjamin Jones

In this episode, Vicki Blight and Tay-Yibah Aziz have set Alice Gray another challenge to find out about climate change through interviews with scientific experts, and this week we are joined by Benjamin Jones, a marine biologist and Founding Director of Project Seagrass, to find out about how climate change is threatening seagrass meadows – which happen to be our main source of defence against climate change.

Part 4) Climate Change – Krissy Middleton

In this episode, Vicki Blight and Tay-Yibah Aziz set Alice Gray another challenge to find out about climate change through interviews with scientific experts, and Alice continues her search for information about this topic.

We speak to conservationist, Krissy Middleton, to talk about conservation and zero waste living.

Stay tuned for next time, where Alice takes her finding back to Vicki and Tay for a concessionary episode.

Part 4) Climate Change – Concessionary Episode

Stay tuned for the next episode where Alice takes her findings back to Tay and Vicki.

 

FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmail