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Motivational Monday: STEM Ambassador

At the start of British Science Week, alumna Eve Townsend talks about her role as a STEM ambassador and the commercial potential of her final year research project.

The Physics graduate, who left South Hampstead in 2016, explains her passion for Science: “Science acts as a lens through which we view the world and Physics has enabled me to take a different perspective on how we interact with it… it’s a way to understand the interplay between nature and technology; it positions you at the forefront of innovation.”

Eve’s final year research project at Bristol University tackled the pressures on water quality resources due to climate change. It was awarded a commendation by the School of Physics, setting Eve on a pathway to commercialise her research after graduating. “The impacts of climate change have resulted in the scarcity and poor quality of natural water sources. I set out to provide a solution to monitor the quality of drinking water and detect the pressures of pollutants. Through the project, we were able to develop an optical detector prototype that enabled the detection of low-levels of pollutants in drinking water.  The prototype showed the same levels of detection as commercial devices.”

Shortly after graduating, Eve joined Spin Up Science, a start-up based in the Bristol incubator Science Creates, whose mission it is to empower scientists with the skills to drive research out of the lab and into real-world solutions. “I learnt the operations involved in running a business and how to manage different projects. Working in a start-up with entrepreneurial-minded scientists was both a humbling and exciting experience… I learned about the hard work required to grow a business model from scratch. I was surrounded by expertise, learning from the best and ultimately left feeling inspired with the drive to pursue my own start-up and create impactful solutions.”

Eve is now a STEM ambassador so she can be more involved with how we teach Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths from a young age, and help identify barriers underrepresented groups face. “Science is constantly evolving and developing. I hope I can use my role as an ambassador to provide insight and illuminate the different career paths now emerging which do not necessarily follow traditional scientific routes. Building stable career paths for scientists is crucial for attracting aspiring innovators.”

When she reflects back on her time at school, Eve says: “One of my earliest memories at South Hampstead is from my first Chemistry lesson when I accidentally set myself on fire! After it was put out, my teacher at the time, Mr Morris, to my surprise, responded with laughter rather than anger. He later told me to ‘never rest on one’s laurels’, to ask questions about the world and to be curious in uncertainty. The key lesson I learned at school was to constantly push boundaries and transcend limitations through innovation, which is really what science is all about.”

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