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Meet the Steering Committee

Are you interested in being part of the Steering Committee? Just contact our coordinator at info@camawise.org.uk.

Stephanie Höhn

Pic_StephanieI am currently a Research Associate in the Biological Physics and Mechanics Group at the Cambridge Maths Faculty. After obtaining a PhD in Biology at the University of Bielefeld (Germany) I took a step out of my field to study the physical parameters that influence biological processes like tissue development. I am combining experiments and mathematical modelling to explore how tissues like our retina obtain their correct three-dimensional shape. Understanding these processes from an engineering point of view will in the long run hopefully help to find remedies for associated birth defects.

I came into STEMM via some detours. Before studying biology I worked as a legal clerk at justice courts. At the age of 25 I decided to leave the security of my permanent job, go back to school to achieve my A-Levels (Abitur) to enable me to study molecular cell biology.

In all different environments outside and within academia I encountered gender-stereotypes and other challenges for women and other marginalised groups. I believe that everyone can contribute in their own way to challenge these obstacles and create a positive work and personal environment for us all. I am an active member of the Maths Equality and Diversity Committee and the local LGBT+ group.

In my free time I am a dancer and a twitcher.


Iratxe Puebla

What is your current profession/background?

I work for the Open Access publisher PLOS, where I am Senior Managing Editor for the journal PLOS ONE. In this role I oversee the day-to-day editorial operations of the journal and I work with a team of staff editors and our editorial board to support the editorial and review process for research manuscripts. It is a varied role which also allows me to participate in the development of editorial policies and outreach activities, I enjoy staying abreast of the latest initiatives in publishing and in the Open Access landscape.

I am also involved with the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), an organization which promotes best practice and education around publication ethics and develops resources for journal editors and publishers.

Before PLOS I worked for the publisher BioMed Central for several years. I started a career in publishing back in 2003 after several years at the lab working on biotechnology research.

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

Science was always one of my favourite subjects at school. At my last year at high school I had a great biology teacher and I considered doing a degree in biology, but taking different advice into account I tried to balance passion and potential career options and, in the end, I pursued a degree in Chemistry with biochemistry from the University of the Basque Country.

What is one of your biggest aspirations?

I have observed the strength and benefit that working with communities can bring, and I hope I can contribute to community building both in professional areas and at the local level here in Cambridge. I am passionate about open research and also have a strong interest in diversity and inclusion and I actively look to contribute to initiatives that drive those forward.

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

“Be your own advocate and do not be shy to put yourself out there, try new things.”

Looking back at my time at the lab, I appreciated the autonomy that working on individual experiments allowed, but it could also feel slightly isolating at times and I think I would have found it useful to have a broader perspective on professional paths within research and beyond. So another tip I’d give is to find a mentor, someone who can provide that broader perspective and act as a sounding board for issues or opportunities that arise.

How have you benefited from being a part of CamAWiSE?

I joined CamAWiSE only a few months ago and it has been a great experience so far, it has given me a chance to meet a diverse group of interesting women. The CamAWiSE group has already helped me with suggestions and connections for a Festival of Ideas event I am organising with colleagues, I also attended the recent time management workshop, where I learnt several tips that I am already implementing in the day-to-day running of activities at work and at home.

What do you like to do in your free time?

Visit friends and family. I also like reading and always feel like I never get enough time to read books, so I try to catch up whenever I get some holidays.

Ask me about…..

The Basque Country (where I am from) and the Basque language, did you know it is the oldest living language in Europe?


Kalai Jayaseelan

What is your current profession/background?

I was a former Bioinformatician at the EMBL-EBI, an inter-governmental European Research Organisation. I was also a Trusted Advisor at the EMBL’s Ombud’s office, helping staff to help themselves during crisis and conflict. While at EMBL, I Co-founded Sukhaatma, an initiative to provide personalised Alternative Mind-Body Medicine Consultations. Currently, I am full-time on my effort where I regularly offer Emotional Intelligence, Personal effectiveness and Leadership training for Scientific, Academic and Health organisations and transformational coaching services for individuals.

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

Right from the School days, I was always interested in grasping the comprehensive view of the natural world or perhaps the whole Universe, using the explanations from science and philosophy. Computers fascinated me too.

I chose to study Bioinformatics from Vellore Institute of Technology University (India), because the course offered the right mix of both Computer technology and Biology. It was a turning point in my life because while at college, I secured a graduate internship at EMBL-EBI, Cambridge and subsequently a full-time position as Bioinformatician, which kick-started my career in STEMM.

What is one of your biggest aspirations?

To lead as many people as possible on this planet to cultivate Self-awareness, creating conditions for inner peace and wellbeing. It is simply because the quality of our awareness plays a critical role in how we relate to ourselves and how we relate to the world at large. When we pay close attention, we can know ourselves better, manage ourselves better, know others better and manage others better. These ways of relating will not only dramatically improve our capacity to be kind and compassionate but also the quality of our work, workplace and life at large.

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

With the in-flux of information overload and constant digital distractions, we are handing over the reigns of our capacities for creative thinking and problem-solving. Our futures will be inextricably entwined with Artificial Intelligence, which is predicted to change work practises, as well as replacement of a number of current jobs.

To skilfully meet the conditions of now and the future and be successful in your chosen path, you must cultivate the capacity to be Self-aware, to be emotionally intelligent and to do deep creative thinking.

“Know what is it that you want. Choose one thing and one thing only and give all your attention to it.”

Dream big. Cultivate deep work capabilities. Learn how to work with your emotions effectively and cultivate resilience. IQ will help you get your foot into the door, but it will be your EQ which will determine your ability to thrive and grow. Ask yourself, how can I be of service to this world? You have got this!

What do you like to do in your free time?

Family is important to me. And, whenever free, I have quality time with my family. It is the place where I recharge, to be of service to the world. I also read, write, meditate, listen to music and do some yoga. Whenever possible, I also offer yoga, meditation and dance classes.

Ask me about…
The benefits of Emotional intelligence and doing deep work and how it relates to employee wellness. I regularly offer talks and full or half-day workshops on these topics and personal coaching.


Isabel Tingay

isabel

What is your current profession/background?

I hold a PhD in Chemistry and currently work at an International Chemicals company, developing after-treatment solutions for the automotive industry. I apply my knowledge and skills to the creation of next generation catalysts.  I started in research and followed this with a move to development. This involves working with customers to understand their requirements, turning these into development projects.

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

I have always had a keen interest in how things work; one of my earliest memories is finding a bird skeleton in the garden and working out how it functioned and fitted together!  I was fortunate to be taught by two very inspirational chemistry teachers at school who sparked off and encouraged my interest in chemistry.

What is one of your biggest aspirations?

To use science to improve the environment and human health.  I spent a year in a research lab in France studying marine sediments for pollutants. This was both thoroughly enjoyable and the turning point in my decision of how I was to apply my scientific background in my career.  I have continued this through my work, reducing pollution from trucks and buses.

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

Follow what interests you and what you love doing.  Seek out a mentor and offer mentoring to others.  Actively manage your career at all times.  And most importantly, science and engineering are fascinating and constantly changing subjects, so enjoy!

How have you benefited from being a part of CamAWiSE?

I have been a member of CamAWiSE for a couple of years and it has been wonderful to meet fellow STEMM professionals with similar interests and experiences.  The workshops have been complementary to the training I have received through my job and have given me additional tools to use for personal development.

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 have completed the Cambridge half marathon and fit in exercise whenever I can. I have an allotment and love spending a Sunday afternoon digging, weeding and growing unusual produce. I even grew award-winning pumpkins this year! 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.


Penny Coggillpenny-cogill

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 STEMM documents in readiness for publication.

What point in your life led you to pursue a STEMM 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 STEMM. 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 STEMM. To help as many other women as possible to achieve their potential in STEMM.

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

Have faith in yourself. Go for what 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.

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