It’s British Science Week, and many of our members are busy sharing their love of science with the world, and particularly young people who are considering their strengths and abilities and beginning to decide of the type of career they may wish to pursue. It’s natural that those who are so enthusiastic about their scientific work will quietly  – or not so quietly! – hope that some of those we meet this week will one day follow in our footsteps.

It seems a good time to share the encouraging story of Eleni Charalambous – how her childhood love of science has led her to study Human Biology at Derby University, and is blossoming into a career in a field she is so passionate about.

Eleni in the lab

Eleni in the lab

“I remember as a young girl my parents and I would do window ledge experiments and marvel at the results of making salt crystals or a lemon clock. As a child I would collect rocks in order to understand more about geology and read through horrible science magazines to learn all the grislydetails of experiments in years gone by. I remember one year in my primary school my teacher set us a project to make a poster on someone who inspires you. Most of my peers chose famous singers or actors or even their favourite footballer. I however chose Antoine Lavoisier. Another time in my primary school we were asked to go around the class and write positive traits each student had. Many of the girls my age had a list of pretty synonyms whilst I found my list containing adjectives like “geeky”. This never bothered me though; in fact it was a great compliment to be described as clever and only propelled my love for science further. In my last year of primary school I was awarded the science cup for my passion towards the subject.

From a young age and into my early teenage years, my inquisitive mind would try to piece together the scientific jigsaw that is our world. Through my own dedication and support of my family, I carried on my studies through GCSE and on to A-level. The transition from GCSE to A-level: one giant leap for me and also one giant leap for teen-kind! Even though A-levels were a challenge, they were the stepping stone I needed to cross over in order to discover the world of university education; especially with regards to science.

Eleni in the College of Life and Natural Sciences at the University of Derby

Eleni in the College of Life and Natural Sciences at the University of Derby

I was incredibly lucky enough to be accepted at the University of Derby to study for a BSc (Hons) in Human Biology: a degree in its infancy, but with great prospects. I am currently in my second year of study, but the first cohort enrolled onto the undergraduate course. It is very daunting to be one of the very first students studying this degree as there are no postgraduate students to ask for advice or to see what their next move was in terms of work or further education. However, it’s a great privilege to be asked for feedback on module selection throughout my studies as I feel I can help improve the learning for other forthcoming students.

With this in mind, I am keen to advocate this course to anyone who shares the love and passion I have for human biology. During my first year I was keen to get the recognition my degree deserves by spreading the word at open days and using social media to raise its profile. During my second year I have played an organisational role within our new “Human Biology Society” which anyone can join at our university.

Despite the challenges I faced during my A-levels, I am finding my feet very quickly and my confidence has re-grown in terms of my academic ability as I begin to pave my own path into a research scientist career. As a daughter of healthcare professionals, who are also previous and current PhD students, I feel I would be able to help many more people through research than by the bedside.

In retrospect, as a young adult, I am so appreciative of all the people I have encountered who encouraged me at a young age and as a girl to enjoy science regardless of what others may have thought. Because I truly believe, science is for everyone!”

Dr Heather Williams
Heather helped establish ScienceGrrl in June 2012 and is ScienceGrrl's Director. Heather is a Senior Medical Physicist for Nuclear Medicine at Central Manchester University Hospitals and honorary Lecturer in the Centre for Imaging Sciences at Manchester University. She makes sure pictures of patients are top quality so the doctors can trust what they see, and tries out new and better ways of imaging the body’s functions. When she’s not working, Heather enjoys running, cycling and spending time with her sons.
Dr Heather Williams
Dr Heather Williams
Dr Heather Williams

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