Foundation News

11 February

International Day of Women & Girls in Science

King’s has a strong science program led by some incredibly talented Women (and Men) in science. To celebrate International Day of Women and Girls in Science, let us introduce you to just some of our female teachers, who are inspiring the future generations of girls in science.

Here our teachers provide a little insight into their education, exciting careers pre King’s and also what inspired them to come and work for King’s:

Dr Petchsingh – Physics Teacher

What did you study at University?

For my undergraduate degree I read Physics at Bristol and went on to do an MSc in Optoelectronics and Laser Devices, jointly run by Heriot-Watt and St Andrews. I followed up with a lab-based doctorate at Oxford, researching the quantum behaviour of charge carriers in exotic semiconductor materials.

What was your career in science before King’s?

As a Thai government-sponsored student, on finishing my studies in 2003, I then returned to Thailand to take up a lectureship at Thammasat University, later becoming Assistant Professor. I retained visiting research collaborations in Oxford and at the Abdus Salaam Institute in Trieste, Italy. After moving to Ireland with my family, I joined a research group at the University of Limerick, working on monitoring technologies for vanadium-flow batteries. On subsequently relocating to the UK, I retrained as a physics teacher and now teach Physics at King’s.

Why did you want to pursue science as a career?

My choice to pursue a career in Physics came early: Maths and Physics were my strengths at school, and winning a scholarship to study in the UK from A levels onward effectively set my career path. I chose Physics over Maths as it seemed to me more practical and employable at the time, and as I progressed towards research, I was drawn more to the experimental than the theoretical. As numerate and analytical problem-solvers, physicists are amongst the most employable graduates. What I hadn’t realised as a teenager was that academic and research careers in Physics (just as in other sciences) offer a huge range of working styles and environments.

Why do feel it’s important to encourage more girls to do science?

Being interested in science has nothing to do with my gender. It is a fun and fascinating subject as well as being extremely useful. Studying science shows that you are capable, purposeful, rational and numerate. Asserting these characteristics early is important for women in broader careers across the sciences, business, health, and communication.

Miss Arnold – Chemistry Teacher

What did you study at University?

What you studied & where? BSC Chemistry with Biological and Medicinal Chemistry at University of York. Then. MSC Professional Science from Open University with a focus on gender in science, specifically would greater gender inclusivity in science education encourage more women into scientific-sector management (e.g. big pharmaceutical companies)

 What do you love about Chemistry?

Chemistry is like the art of the science world. All about how molecules are designed and how they behave so explains a lot of what you see happening around you. You sometimes have to look beyond what’s right in front of you to infer reason or explanation. It’s fundamental to explaining how the world around you works and, if you want to change something, you have to understand it. Things like medicine only work because of Chemistry. 

What made you want to pursue science as a degree or a career? 

I ask a lot of “why” questions! I wanted to study a subject that challenged me and engaged me whilst also opening up a lot of different opportunities. 

Why do feel it’s important to encourage more girls to do Science?

Representation is important! When I was researching my Masters, I found that there is less research being done into disease that affects women specifically because there are fewer women in Big Pharma positions who are able to push this forward. Equally, the statistics for chemistry grads are shocking. Around 50% of undergrads are female but around only 13% of postdoc or professors are because they don’t seem themselves being represented and so don’t see it as an attainable or suitable career path.


Mrs Roberts – Chemistry

What did you study at University?

Following A levels in Maths, Chemistry and Biology I completed an undergraduate MSci degree at Nottingham University in Chemistry. I loved the structure and mixture of lectures and lab time and undertook a research project in my final year into molecular cages that would have the potential to be used in catalysis. 

What made you want to teach Chemistry?

One year of research was enough for me and I realised that I loved the outreach opportunities – helping at open days, visiting local schools etc and so decided to go into teaching.

What do you love about Chemistry?

My first memories of chemistry were visiting my sister, Mrs Gamble (Physics) at a university open day when I was very young. She was my big sister away from home – I was hooked on explosions, colour changes and the feel of being in a laboratory and remember forcing our parents to hunt out ‘glow sticks’ from every camping shop we visited! It was never really a question of studying anything else – my chemistry teachers cemented a love of the subject by trying to outdo each other with big experiments – the 1812 overture with hydrogen balloons as the cannons was a particular highlight!

What do you enjoy about teaching Chemistry at King’s? 

I feel privileged to be able to teach Chemistry at King’s – the students work so hard and will willingly undertake anything you throw at them! I love the fact I am given the opportunity to try and enthuse the students about how exciting chemistry can be – admittedly with varying degrees of success!

Why would you encourage pupils to study chemistry?

Students take chemistry because it is a route into so many other degrees – there is so much you can do with a degree in science! The skills you learn – being concise, applying knowledge to unfamiliar situations, practical and observational skills are applicable to so many careers, some of which may not be immediately obvious.

scienceMrs Lacey – Biology

What did you study at University?

I studied Veterinary Science at the University of Bristol. I then went on to work as a first opinion vet in small animal practice for a number of years. I then worked as a Veterinary Advisor at a veterinary pharmaceutical company. I now teach Biology at King’s

What do you enjoy about teaching Biology at King’s? 

I love teaching Biology as it helps us to explain so many things that we see around us. I have always loved learning about how our bodies work and how different organisms live and interact with each other. It is so rewarding to see students begin to understand how all these amazing processes and organisms interact. I love the varied questions the students ask around the subject, some of which make me think too!

What made you want to pursue science as a degree or a career?

 I have always loved science and the animal world and continue to be fascinated with it. There is always something new to discover! I always wanted to be a vet growing up, and initially I did work as a vet, but I am lucky to have my degree, even when I decided that was not the career for me, I was still able to change career.

Why do feel it’s important to encourage more girls to do Science?

I think science is such a rewarding subject to study, helping us to make sense of the world around us. By studying science, you open up so many doors, I initially worked as a vet, but having a science degree has allowed me to make a career change into teaching, a job I love. There are so many jobs and routes you can take by studying science. I also think that a career in science gives you a wonderful opportunity to continue learning throughout your life.

Mrs Gamble – Physics & Chemistry

What did you study at University?

I went to the University Of Nottingham & Graduated 1987 with a BSc (Hons) in Chemistry. Studies included (in addition to Chemistry of course) Pharmacology & Physiology, Further Maths & Physics, German & early computer programming, Comet Chemistry, Transition metal Complexes etc

What was your career in science before King’s?

PGCE at University of York 1988, Work at Courtaulds Research in Coventry (novel artificial fibres), First teaching post at Farmors School in Fairford (in the Cotswolds) the Head of dept three years later at Hanley Castle High School (Upton on Severn). Brief career break to start a family then to Ashlawn School in Rugby, a specialist Science college, again HoD for a number of years, then at Southam College in Warwickshire. Moved to Canada in 2013 taught at Kinlin School of Business at University in London Ontario for a while.

What do you enjoy about teaching science?

I enjoy a bit of danger & risk & love experimenting, exploring, blowing stuff up! I love to see the “emotional response” from students when they carry out investigations and see things for themselves first hand for the first time, when that “penny drops” and they suddenly grasp a key or complex new concept. It’s a subject for me that has real purpose and meaning. It’s helpful to the world – where did that new medicine or vaccination come from? How did we learn to gene sequence a virus? How did that MRI machine just take a 3D picture of my insides? Why does that material have such a huge melting point? Why does ice float on water?

What made you want to pursue science as a degree or a career?

My A level Chemistry teacher told me that “ that’s not a job for a woman” – seriously! In 1984… I had decided I wanted to be a Forensic Scientist – this is in the days before CSI and TV detectives were Starsky & Hutch or Morse mind you…. So that was a bit of a red rag to a bull as they say. I’ll show him… I was a pretty good all-rounder – but it was the thing I really had a passion for.

Years later, a school friend I met up with said (and she was working at GCHQ as an electronic engineer having gone to Cardiff to study) that she had seen me at school doing A levels in science (I was one of very few A level students at my school, and the only one doing Physical sciences)and thought “If Alison can do it, so can I” That made me quite proud…

Why do you feel it is important to encourage more girls into science-based careers?

They can help us to save lives, save the planet, explore the universe – can’t get much bigger than that really! They take a lot of hard work, but are incredibly rewarding to study – you develop loads of transferable skills, vocational skills – you can get a great job in a huge variety of fields and the salaries in STEM careers can be some of the best graduates can look forward to (also as fewer people study them – sadly – graduate demand is high). They are academically rigorous but you also get to develop your critical thinking and creative skills, you learn to be a great team player and problem solver.

We get good role models and dispel the image of the scientist as a boring geek, I don’t know any who are so why does that idea still persist??

What careers did you want to go into at 17?

Like I said before, Forensic science. I decided to study a pure science first as I was wavering about working in the pharmaceutical industry too, so felt that would be the best platform from which to start. I hankered after being a doctor too, but at my school I had no careers advice (again, how lucky you all are!) and had no clue that I would have good enough A level results to even think about that (or at the time self confidence to ask those questions).

Both my parents were primary school teachers – no way was I going to follow them! Then, I helped my mum out at a very challenging special school she was working at one summer and that changed the course of my whole future. Just felt “natural” to me – and once I had completed my PGCE there was nothing else for it!

What could you be?

A paramedic, a midwife, a pharmacist, a structural engineer (build some bridges), a climate change scientist (my cousin tracks ocean currents!), an environmentalist, a journalist or broadcaster, a mechanical engineer, an aeronautical engineer, a pilot, a colour chemist (yes there is such a thing!), an astronaut, an astronomer searching for Exo planets, solve the worlds food problem/waste problem/energy crisis, find a cure for a new disease, or a new vaccine to prevent one, a materials scientist……

What is International Day of Women and Girls in Science?

The International Day of Women and Girls in Science is the 11th day of February. The day recognizes the critical role women and girls play in science and technology.