11 February 2022

On International Day of Women and Girls in Science, Friday 11 February 2022, four people from our UEL communities talk about their inspirations and journeys to becoming scientists.

International Day of Women and Girls in Science, celebrates the critical role women and girls play in science and technology.

This day marks seven years since it was adopted by the United Nations Greater Assembly, to promote full and equal access and participation for women and girls in science.

Dr Elena Serena Piccardi, lecturer in developmental psychology, talks about her inspirations and journey to psychology.

"My fascination around the complexities of human behaviour inspired me to study psychology and cognitive neuroscience.

"As a student, I would spend long hours reading books about early brain development, determined to understand the topic. This is what led me to reading about Professor Annette Karmiloff-Smith, a specialist in neurocognitive development.

"Her unique writing style, her theoretically deep and experimentally ingenious approach immediately resonated with me, and I soon realised I wanted to pursue a career in developmental psychology.

"After a few months, I found myself where I never thought I would be – in London, pursuing a PhD in developmental psychology. I was lucky enough to even be in the same research environment that Professor Karmiloff-Smith belonged too.

"It is so important to celebrate women and girls in science, as the influence of Professor Annette Karmiloff-Smith inspired me to keep reading and researching my passion.

"The support and guidance I received during my time as a PhD student made me the person I am today: a researcher and mentor whose goal is to inspire students and nurture curious and inquisitive minds capable not only to challenge accepted ideas but also to replace those ideas with creative, new ones."

Dr Elena Serena Piccardi

Dr Nikdokht Ghadiminia, lecturer in construction engineering management, says more must be done to support women in science.

"I have always been interested in engineering and built environment and that is what led me to focus on a career combining the built environment with project management and cybersecurity.

"My research includes constructing digital twin (DT) and Building Information Modelling (BIM) which create a digital replicate of the functionality and characteristics of a physical facility.

"My passion for BIM has also led me to become a Women in BIM (WIB) mentor, which involved providing advice and guidance to industry professionals who wish to implement BIM as part of their work.

"My academic and professional experiences have shown me that there is great potential in maximising opportunities of women in science, engineering, built environment and computing.

"However, more work needs to be done in breaking down existing restrictions and overcome the cultural barriers which still exists in these industries. Continuing to build on what we have achieved will develop and benefit our industry and create more opportunities for women and girls."

Dr Nikdokht Ghadiminia

Blessing Oloto, who graduated with First Class Honours in BSc (Hons) Medical Science, celebrated the diversity of sciences at UEL.

"As an international student, my favourite part of UEL was the diverse community, where I got to meet different people from around the world and learn about their culture.

"Currently, I am working as a biomedical scientist at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children. I couldn’t imagine myself being here without the encouragement and support I received at UEL.

"I am hoping to further my career by going into research so that I can continue to help people in my role as a biomedical scientist."

Gill Macaskill, PhD in performance in recreational distance runners: a biomechanical approach to improving running economy, says representation is vital.

"My journey as a Sports Scientist began in 2014 with an undergraduate degree at UEL. Part of my studies included biomechanics, looking at movement patterns, physiology and how the body functions.

"Now as a PhD student, I spend a lot of time in the labs at UEL, looking specifically at performance in recreational distance runners. I work with a variety of volunteers capturing their movement and the amount of oxygen they need when running.

"I am using these results to help runners identify what they can do to enhance performance – so that they can run, further, faster or for longer for the same energy cost.

"I think it's important to celebrate the success of women in our work as it is inspiring to have role models that we can see, so science is more readily considered as an option and not thought of as something that women can’t do. It is useful to see the vast range of work that is being done in the field so others can see what is possible."

For more information see International Day of Women and Girls in Science.

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