Head of Science
WHAT DO YOU DO?
I'm currently Head of Science at Fulneck School. I also started wearing the hat of Assistant Principal High Achievers in that school. My aim is to interest, motivate, engage all students and especially girls to think scientifically, and give them skills to navigate their future: data analysis, attention to details, aspiration to leave their world a better place by engaging with engineering, remaining creative in a syllabus that thwart this intrinsic ability of kids of inventivness and creativity.
I was pushed by my parents into education: "you can never be too educated!". I wanted to be an astronaut (but I was pathetic on a roller coaster). So I selected to have my feet on Earth and study geology. I felt the Earth breathing when sat on top of Stromboli volcano and watched the natural fireworks, nights after nights, whislt helping to deploy seismic broadband stations. Fell in love!
I completed a master in Volcanology and magmatology then a PhD , working on Pyroclastic flow deposit and the Physics of it. I studied worldwide deposits, but experienced the eruption of the British active volcano of Montserrat that destroyed the life of so many.
With a post doc in Fluid dynamics, I was hoping to carry on research for a while. But with the arrival of our daughter, I felt a change of career was necessary and went into teaching science, especially Physics.
So I have been teaching Physics for 12 years, with a year break to go and explore the education system of New Zealand, and become the leader of a project on seismology in school in New Zealand.
Back in the UK, I was a partner in an Erasmus + project, where European students were encouraged to meet and share science. I am the Leeds Harrogate partnership coordinator for Ogden trust for the last 4 years, a Scientix ambassador for 3 years. I was also an Ogden trust fellowship for a year, and went arount local primary schools to propagate the "good word" in seismology and volcanoes, ie propagate the love for science. I was awarded the 2020 Sir Patric Moore Medal for Education by the Royal Astronomical Society.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THIS FIELD?
I selected the field of sciences, because it provides a rational explanation of this world. It taught me to become a problem solver and to value the drive to make this world a better place.
I went into teaching because I did not want to lose the connection with this idea: that science, and scientists, help make the world a better place.
HOW DO/DID YOU TACKLE OBSTACLES?
I have found that, as you progress from master to PhD to postdoc the most important skill is not scientific knowledge and reasoning, though they are crucial, but creativity. I realised I was not creative enough to stay in pure research. I think this is one of the key obstacles that I faced and thus, this is why I want to promote this idea of creativity in schools.
WHAT DO YOU LOOK AT & THINK, "I WISH YOUNGER ME WOULD HAVE KNOWN THIS WAS POSSIBLE?"
Each life is personal and link to the ability of everyone to create their own story. You will not have only one job in your life. You will not live where you are born: I'm french but live in the UK for the last 20 years at a place that I had never heard of until I was 21. You want to go and explore. Your life is like a travelling adventure: you will have some great time and some awful time, but this life is your own. Make sure you leave this world a better place.
WHY DO YOU LOVE WORKING IN STEM?
Every day is a clay in my hand: to shape and make good, to enthuse my students with ambition for themself, to each day being different in its challenge and actions, to not kill my students creativity but give them opportunities to explore and discover.
BEST ADVICE FOR NEXT GENERATION?
STEM will keep all your options open for any career you want. It will shape you with a balanced, open mind. Embrace STEM!
"If you can’t be a pine on the top of a hill
Be a scrub in the valley—but be
The best little scrub on the side of the hill,
Be a bush if you can’t be a tree.
If you can’t be a highway just be a trail
If you can’t be the sun be a star;
It isn’t by size that you win or fail—
Be the best of whatever you are."
Martin Luther King