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Elisabeth Feldstein

Chemistry masters student, University of Edinburgh

 

And - Founder, Edinburgh University Women in STEM society and former student champion, Equate Scotland

Women have had to fight for the opportunities we have now and so what you make of these opportunities is up to you.

What do you do?

Currently I am in my final year studying for a Masters in Chemistry. Alongside my lecture courses, I have a Masters research project, focussed on the measurement of ozone fluxes. These measurements are important, as ozone, a greenhouse gases can cause detrimental damages to both humans and vegetation.

 

Outside of my classes, I founded the Edinburgh University Women in STEM society, a society founded upon inspiration and support through real life examples. I also acted as a student champion for two years with Equate Scotland, and I continue to be an active STEM ambassador in my communities.

Why did you choose this field?

"[My field will] allow me to use my knowledge in ways which would help improve people's lives." 

I initially chose to pursue sciences because from an early age I have always enjoyed problem solving and analytical thinking. I wanted to choose an educational field, which would allow me to use my knowledge in ways which would help improve people’s lives. I hope to be able to accomplish this goal once I graduate in either the environmental or health care field; both areas I am very passionate about.

 

In particular, Chemistry is my favourite science as it is the perfect combination of all the sciences. The applications that Chemistry has to explain so many natural occurrences at the small scale are captivating. Many times in labs or lectures the ideas that are being discussed can become quite abstract due to how small they are. However the chemical elements and these phenomenon’s make up everyday life and are so important to understand. 

What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?

"Anything is attainable with hard work and focus."

One of my greatest achievements to date was running the Edinburgh half marathon last May. When I was younger, I was not a very good runner, and often just played it off to the fact that ‘I just couldn’t run’. This experience was tough and there were moments where I struggled. But, running 13.1 miles was a huge accomplishment, and showed me what I was capable of.

 

A sense of belief and inspiration would take away many of the doubts that my younger self had during uncertain times, and would improve on my thought process of just saying ‘I can’t do it’.

Why do you love working in STEM?

Because there is always more to learn. Every day at University I learn something new. It is a tough course but I think the challenge has instilled in me the importance of working hard and dedicating yourself to the things you enjoy. Working in STEM can often be filled with many hours of thinking and problem solving, and the thought processes I am now able to go through when faced with a problem are all due to studying a STEM degree.

Best advice for the next generation

If you ever think you won’t be able to do something because it is too hard or because you aren’t smart enough, you are absolutely wrong! Anything is achievable with hard work. There is such a forward and positive movement right now for women in STEM and so I think for any girls who have the opportunity to pursue STEM, you would be entering the STEM field at such an exciting and great time. Many women in the past have had to fight for the opportunities we have now, and so what you make of these opportunities is up to you. STEM needs women! For any girls looking to study STEM, I would say, just do it!

Fun fact

One of my favourite things to do is to watch TED Talks online during my spare time. I am so fascinated by the ideas and research that people come up with, as well as the compelling ways they are able to tell their stories. They are so inspiring!