STEM Ambassador Profile
Name: Fiona Randall
Organisation: Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, Japan (was Newcastle University)
Job Title: Neuroscientist (at Newcastle was PhD student)
Area of work or study
I do exploratory research into diseases of the brain, looking to understand how diseases occur so we may be able to develop cures and/or better treatments for them.
How did you decide to work in your chosen field?
Just followed stepwise progression from science A levels, to degree in Molecular Biology to a job in a drug company looking for new Alzheimers' disease treatments. Started to realise that what I was doing had an important impact on humans as well as being an exciting job, using my brain and also a job that was never the same from day to day.
A levels in bio/ chem/ maths Bachelors in Molecular Biology (Edinburgh) PhD in Neuroscience (Newcastle).
What attracted you to the STEM Ambassadors scheme?
The ability to communicate my excitement about science to a young audience-I never realised how great it was until way after school and was lucky not to miss out.
What do you like about being a STEM Ambassador?
Talking to young people about science, telling them I'm a scientist and showing them that all scientists don't fit into the 'old man/ white coat/ big glasses/ grey beard' stereotype.
What do you see as the benefits of the STEM Ambassadors scheme?
Not really any for the STEM Ambassadors except to promote our field where it is sometimes made to seem very boring in schools. We need to keep the young interested so we get the best people coming into science careers in the future.
STEM Ambassadors activities
I have given 2 schools talks on animal research.
Talked about why animal use is necessary/ told the facts about the laws governing it/ how animals cared for then let the kids ask as many questions as they liked to open up a debate.
What was the reaction of the young people you worked with?
They were pleasantly surprised to see the facts. They asked loads of questions and a lot said they had changed their negative opinions of science and animal use which was only influenced before by the action of antivivisection campaigns.
What advice would you give to young people wanting to work in your field?
If you love asking questions and seeing how things work then this could be a very exciting career for you. Being a scientist allows you to answer the questions you've always wondered about answers too...