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.


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.



Burned out

Forgive me for the lack of STEM related content, but it’s my blog and I’ll cry if I want to (cry if I want to).

They say there are ten signs that you are burning out, but I feel like I have experienced twenty. And I have exhausted myself on every realm – mental, emotional and physical. Because having stubborn ambition and unadulterated dedication can come at a price.

I’ve been chasing my career goals and aspirations with the tenacity only a redhead could muster; working a full-time job, managing a blog with a workload the equivalent of a part-time job, training in the gym five days a week, starting new projects whilst maintaining old ones, and trying to push myself into filmmaking and presenting (all whilst maintaining a social life and trying to spend time with family). I use my annual leave to catch up with my blog work or do blog events, or even help me to achieve the next stage in my goals, meaning there are no holidays and there is no time off.

The last two years have been filled with great news and fantastic experiences, sadly this has happened on a backdrop of bad news and hard times. None the less, I haven’t stopped and I have soldiered on to keep up with my upward trajectory. But this has meant that I have had to push ‘dealing with the bad news’ to the bottom of a To Do list that I never get round to.

Despite these bits of bad news and hard times, I haven’t stopped and I’ve still been plodding along. But it’s time to admit that plodding along isn’t sustainable, and this ‘plodding along’ is slowly but surely become a grind to a halt.

Burning out has forced me to stop, its twisted my arm until I admitted that enough is enough. And although it pains me to say it and I say it with gritted teeth, my resolution for the New Year is to slow down.

So if you want to find me, I will be up a mountain somewhere breathing in some fresh air.

Peace out.


Inside The Petri Dish Podcast | Episode One

The Inside the Petri Dish podcast kicks off by exploring the topic of immunisations and vaccinations – with a whole host of guests.

Part 1) Immunisations and Vaccines – Katie Walwyn-Brown

In the very first episode 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 a challenge to find out about immunisations and vaccinations through interviews with scientific experts.

First we speak to immunologist, Katie Walwyn-Brown, where we explore how vaccines work.


Part 2) Immunisations and Vaccines  – Matt Morgan

In this episode of Inside the Petri Dish, Alice Gray is joined by Intensive Care Doctor, Matt Morgan, to explore the consequences of not being vaccinated.


Part 3) Immunisations and Vaccines – Alan Parker

Alice Gray has been set a task to find out more about immunisations and vaccines by Vicki Blight and Tay-Yibah Aziz. In this episode Alice sits down with virologist, Alan Parker, at the Tackling Cancer Together event in the Yr Hen Lyfrgell museum in Cardiff, to explore how immunotherapy can be used to prevent or treat cancer.


Part 4) Immunisations and Vaccines – Concessionary Episode

Vicki, Tay and Alice gather round with tea, biscuits and welsh cakes for the first concessionary episode of Inside the Petri Dish, where Alice brings her findings back to discuss what she has learnt from the experts.

Stay tuned for next week, where Tay and Vicki set Alice a new topic to explore.


Inside The Petri Dish Podcast

Radio presenter and voice actor, Vicki Blight, science filmmaker and women in STEM champion, Tay-Yibah Aziz, and STEMinist blogger, Alice Gray, are joining forces to dissect science and take a look down the microscope at controversial topics within science in the new Inside The Petri Dish podcast.

Vicki and Tay will set Alice a challenge, getting her to find out more about a topic by interviewing scientists and experts, before bringing her findings back to them to discuss in a concessionary episode.

Inside The Podcast is set to be launched on Sunday November 26 at 5pm, kicking off the podcast by investigating immunisations and vaccinations.


STEM Christmas Gift Guide 2017

It is that time of year again, where some parents are pulling out their hair trying to find gender-neutral toys for stocking fillers.

In honour of this festive period and to help make life a little easier, I have put together another STEM Christmas Gift Guide, with special features of books that would make amazing presents for young boys and girls to help increase the representation of women in STEM on their bookshelf.

Detective Dot – “It’s not magic,” said Dot “Just code.”

Nine-year-old tech whizz Detective Dot has a dangerous new mission from the Children’s Intelligence Agency – investigate teenage trillionaire Shelly Belly. Why are all her products so cheap, and where does she make them? Dot’s going to have to use all her coding skills, cunning and gadgets to crack the case.

An awesome book (and activity pack) that introduces the concepts of coding to kids and reinforcing what they are learning in school, whilst encouraging children to think about how products are made and ethical practices in industry. It does a lot in one book, and is beautifully illustrated.

SUPRBIRD Dinosaur Play 2 Sets, Assemble and Disassemble Dinosaurs DIY – It is never to early for STEM learning. These gender-neutral dinosaur toys are suitable for children age three and up.

Tech Will Save Us DIY Thirsty Plant Kit – Biology and engineering, the perfect gift for an eager mind. The kit allows kids to make a moisture sensor, power it with solar energy, and to your plants happy. It is suitable for children aged 8 and over.

My First Microscope – A fully functioning microscope for little hands.

National Geographic Play Sand – This is mainly included in the list in case my friends see it, because I think its cool and would like some. And a kid would probably think it was so too.

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls – This book showcases some of the amazing women from history and today. This children’s book is so good that I have it.

Fantastically Great Women Who Changed The World – The perfect gift for the Fantastically Great Women in your life. From Coco Chanel to Rosa Parks, Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World is bursting full of astounding facts and incredible artwork on some of the most brilliant women who helped shape the world we live in.

Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World – A gloriously illustrated celebration of trailblazing women. Simple as.

A Galaxy of Her Own: Amazing Stories of Women in Space – “Will suitably inspire trailblazers of all ages”

A must-have book for ambitious girls – it tells fifty stories of inspirational women who have been fundamental to the story of humans in space.

Amelia Earhart (Little People, Big Dreams) – Any book from this series would be a great edition to any bookshelf. 

In the Little People, Big Dreams series, discover the lives of outstanding people from designers and artists to scientists. All of them went on to achieve incredible things, yet all of them began life as a little child with a dream.

Ada Twist, Scientist – Determined Ada Twist, with her boundless curiosity for science and love of the question Why?

Does It Fart?: The Definitive Field Guide to Animal Flatulence – Dogs do it. Millipedes do it. Dinosaurs did it. You do it.

Put this in a stocking this Christmas, I can guarantee that you will glance through it first and learn something new!

Molymods – just ‘cuz. I always wanted to play with these in chemistry class, and why not use them to decorate the tree this year and make a chemistree.

Wow Stuff Science Museum Famous Drinking Bird – Learn about perpetual motion and re-create the ‘Any Key’ scene from the Simpsons.