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Meet the Steering Group – Penny Coggill

What is your current profession/background?

I have just retired from working with a protein-families database, finding evolutionary relationships between proteins from all forms of life. I have started my own company to edit/proof-read STEM documents in readiness for publication.

What point in your life led you to pursue a STEM career?

My father was a dental surgeon interested in facial surgery after war-wounds and brought home what I found were fascinating illustrated textbooks, so when I got to High School I wanted to study all the -ologies, ie STEM. As it turned out I didn’t pursue a career in medicine but went into biochemistry and nutrition.

What is one of your biggest aspirations?

Simply to see parity in male-female numbers up to the very top levels in STEM. To help as many other women as possible to achieve their potential in STEM.

What advice would you give to aspiring female scientists and engineers?

Have faith in yourself. Go for want interests you and you wish to do and do not be put off by others telling you that you don’t have the right background or aptitude, or whatever. Never wait for someone to offer you promotion or suggest you apply for that professorship. Work out what your career path is going to look like in advance, ie how far you wish to go, and seek out the opportunities and the promotions along the way.

Always find people to seek advice from – these are often termed Mentors – to talk through your own plans with; and if they turn out to be good mentors then nurture them well. Don’t be afraid to go to the very top for advice either, even near the start of your career. On the professional front, become familiar with basic statistics and learn to program, even as a biologist.

How have you benefited from being a part of CAMAWiSE?

CamAWiSE is a support network, with frequent opportunities for networking/meeting people, hearing about their professional lives and making friends. The many workshops and talks on improving one’s personal image, outlook, technical abilities in giving presentations and chairing meetings more effectively have all benefited my career-profile.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I did, and sometimes still do, quite a bit of choral singing and I play the bass recorder. Learning to appreciate modern Art is ongoing and I have taken up knitting again…

Ask me about…..

Protein-evolution, British wildflowers, choral singing, and gardening.

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