Ella, 17, is a science student and enthusiast of all things quantum physics. She has recently completed a research project in Caenorhabditis elegans, a nematode worm linked to epigenetics research. Provided she doesn't fail her upcoming exams, she hopes to study medicine with a focus on forensic pathology.
After my particularly eventful time in Cambridge for the Young Scientist Journal Conference, my scientific pursuits took me to London. On 26th October 2017 (commuter time, of course), I was invited to speak at a ‘Meet the STEMettes’ panel event in London, sponsored by NTT, a telecommunications company. This event was geared towards young women with an interest in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), and was designed to encourage students to network with each other and the panellists to further engage them and build their confidence in pursuing a STEM career.
Upon arrival, I was warmly welcomed by Anne-Marie Imafudon, the founder of STEMettes, whom I haven’t seen since I met her in 2015. The breakfast, enjoyed in the peace and quiet of pre-arrival, was delicious – as to be expected of any STEMettes event. After the attendees began to arrive, we panellists were ushered into a meeting room, and formally introduced and briefed. I was (of course) the youngest panellist at 17, and there were seven other fantastic women on the panel – I was sat between Shally Shefer (Delivery Manager at NTT), and Louise Maynard-Atem, who works in cybersecurity within the government.
The panel discussion mostly consisted of us explaining our work and research in STEM, as well as explaining to the girls that STEM is where the future lies, and that we should be a part of that as much as boys, which was heavily emphasised by Shally and Jana Novohradska, who manages a global Robotics Process Automation Project.
This was followed by a networking session, in which we panellists met with the girls in smaller groups to further discuss our work and the choices that they were making, as well as GCSE, A-Level, and university tips! I was also encouraging students to pursue opportunities presented and to seek them out – for example, CREST Awards, IRIS Projects, and EPQs. One of the most important things taken away by the girls attending was that these choices that they’re making aren’t forever. This was especially highlighted by Louise, who did a degree in Chemistry and now works in cyber security.
During the event, there were also quiz questions to try to encourage the attendees to network with us and each other. These varied from asking how many languages Jana spoke (3), to the name of Dr Clare Anyiam-Osigwe’s beauty and skincare brand – Premae. This not only encouraged them to initiate conversation with us, but the winning girls over sixteen were offered an afternoon shadowing an NTT employee, to give a better idea of how STEM and industry are combined.
Based on my incredible experiences with them, I would highly recommend getting involved in events hosted by the STEMettes, who are based in London – details of upcoming events can be found on their free app, OtotheB, or on their website, http://stemettes.org/. I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank the other panellists for the wonderful panel. I’m very grateful that my first experience of a panel was such a positive one!