qmunicate’s STEM subject students tell us who inspired them into the exciting field of SCIENCE!
Ben Taysum, Physics and Astronomy student
I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t love Physics and Astronomy, and tracing back my love for stars and supernovae and all that nerd junk is quite tricky. I can however concretely say that my inspiration to become an astronomer, and hopefully nab a sneaky doctorate in the future, comes straight from my Granddad, Dr. John Midgley. I’m a bit of a klutz admittedly, as he can be also, but that didn’t stop him excelling in the world of biochemistry. Whenever I was at his home as a child, he’d wow me with knowledge of physics and the universe in general, and I can say happily that my drive for my academic work comes from wanting to reach the same level as him. A big goal, as he was offered his second doctorate recently, but whenever I talk to him about my course, his face lights up with keen interest, and he’s the only person I can talk science with without boring their head off, and that keeps me going. Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Stephen Hawking and Data the Android are all fine and dandy, but they’re no Midgley in my eyes.
Ludovica Credendino, Chemistry student
Surprisingly enough, the person who inspired me to get into STEM was a writer, Primo Levi. Mainly known for his memoir, If This Is a Man, in which he talks about how he survived a year in Auschwitz concentration camp, later ending up writing poetry, short stories, and a novel. Reading his works, in which he often mentions his love for chemistry, I found an analogous curiosity to mine in his way of writing about life and humanity as well as science and art. His short stories collection, The Periodic Table, named the best science book ever by the Royal Institution of Great Britain, opened my eyes to the understated beauty of chemistry. Linking each short story and title to an element in the periodic table, Levi wrote about how chemistry was always present and always played a major role in his life. Although he never really had an important job as a chemist, he cultivated and shared his passion, which I find just as inspirational.
Amber Ruddy, Electronics and Electrical Engineering student
As a mathematician and IT expert in two of my all-time favourite films, (Jurassic Park and Independence Day respectively), I have came to the conclusion that my STEM hero, my initial influencer of all things sciencey, is Jeff Goldblum. Has anyone else ever made chaos theory sound so simple? And who wouldn’t want to tinker around with and fly an alien spaceship, ultimately saving the world. Along with Men in Black inspiring me to grab some binoculars and look for Orion’s Belt, the films of my childhood sparked my imagination and certainly had a huge impact on me and my future aspirations. But it was science fact, rather than science fiction, that truly inspired me to pursue engineering. In 2012 I attended “An Evening with NASA”, a public lecture in Glasgow featuring astronauts Ron Garan, Mike Baker, and engineer Heather Paul. Heather in particular emanated passion and love for her work as a spacesuit engineer and it opened my eyes to a new world of applied maths and physics. It eventually led to me studying Electronics and Electrical Engineering so I can achieve my dream of becoming a rocket scientist, even if Plan A of being an astronaut doesn’t work out.
Nour El-Issa, Maths student
I came to study Maths through initially wanting to study Physics, but felt that the latter subject wasn’t as interesting as documentaries and pop science would have me believe at university. It’s no surprise to me that some of the greatest theoretical physicists of the last century or so became celebrities – Einstein being the most notable example – since the work they did was more than typical research, it revealed awe-inspiring insights into the nature of the universe. I wanted to study in the same field that helps us learn more about how the world around us works and maybe, *maybe* someday achieve some insight like Heisenberg, Schrodinger and Feynman did, contributing massively to the collective human understanding in the process. Then I realised that undergrad physics has a lot of labs, and I don’t find that nearly as interesting, so I switched to maths instead, which has a 90% overlap with all of the cool stuff described above but is multiple times more interesting to study. Sorry not sorry, physicists.