I had a rather nomadic childhood, born in The Netherlands, and living in Pakistan, Brazil, and Germany, among other places, but I was largely educated in the UK and, as an undergraduate, studied Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge. After university, I qualified as a youth worker and ran projects in the Borough of Newham, in London, and then Southmead, in Bristol, whilst undertaking a Postgraduate Diploma in Community Education.
Youth work led to a job in teaching, which provided the perfect combination of pastoral care and academic challenge and I worked in comprehensive, state grammar and independent schools, firstly as a Teacher of Science, then Head of Chemistry, Head of Science and latterly Deputy Head (Academic). Whilst working full-time, I completed an MSc in Science Education with the University of Bristol, which also introduced me to the world of Higher Education outreach, and I volunteered on the Bristol programmes for a number of years during the school holidays, as well as developing programmes for primary outreach for my own secondary schools. As a result of my experience in both informal and formal education, I am mindful of the educational gulf that exists between different communities and the importance of every institution playing its part to address this, and was fortunate to spend three years as an appointed member of the RSC Science, Education and Industry Board (SEIB), which at that time was one of the four boards reporting into the RSC Council.
I joined the Chemistry Department in February 2019, initially in a temporary sabbatical role as a Junior Demonstrator, to brush up on my knowledge of current undergraduate chemistry. Staff changes led to the opportunity to successfully apply to stay on in a newly created Educational Outreach Officer post and, whilst it was hard to move on from a highly enjoyable and rewarding career in secondary teaching, it has been an absolute delight and privilege to work with such able and dedicated colleagues and students, committed to inspiring and supporting the next generation of chemists and to addressing structural disadvantage.
Our outreach programme is wide-ranging, designed for 3-19 yr olds, their parents and supporters as well as teachers and technicians. The pandemic has led to new opportunities and novel ways of connecting with people which will continue in the future. You can find out more about all of our work in our schools’ section.