Welcoming the members of our new Steering Committee

2020 has been a challenging year in so many ways. For the LGBTQ+ community, it has been the forced self-isolation or social distancing which saw Pride events effectively being moved into virtual space. Ongoing protests like #BlackLivesMatter and #TransRightsAreHumanRights have made us all pause and think more deeply about the structural biases that we all operate within and look for ways to be effective in diversity and inclusion. 

For us in LGBTQ+ STEM, this has been a time to evolve and ensure that the voices or communities intersecting with LGBTQIA+ identities are represented in the activities that we plan in the future (e.g. LGBTQ+ STEMinars, Mini seminars/webinars and LGBTQ+ STEM Blog). Our steering committee is the engine of LGBTQ+ STEM’s internal dialogue on how we broaden the diversity and inclusion in our community. So, we are delighted to introduce our new steering committee members (in alphabetical order of first name). 

  • Dr Beth Montague-Hellen 
  • Dr Claire Davies
  • Claire Malone
  • Dr Craig Poku
  • Emily Harford
  • Kate Montague-Hellen
  • Dr Natasha Stephen
  • Dr Tyler Kelly
  • Dr Verena Gortz

Here are some detailed introductions:

Dr Beth Montague-Hellen (she/them)

Dr Beth Montague-Hellen started off academic life as a Bioinformatician, but while a postdoc realised that it was much more fun supporting other people’s research. 

In 2016 Beth retrained as a Librarian and has since then primarily worked in Scholarly Communications and Research Support at a number of different UK Higher Education institutions and is currently Senior Research Librarian at the University of Nottingham. 

Beth started the LGBTQ+ STEM blog as a way of making LGBTQ+ people working in STEM field more visible and was then persuaded through the medium of twitter to organise the first LGBTQ+ STEMinar.

See Beth’s LGBTQ+ STEM interview here

Dr Claire Davies (she/her)

Claire is a postdoctoral research fellow in the Astrophysics Group of the University of Exeter. There, she represents the College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences on the staff LGBTQ+ network and is LGBTQ+ rep on the Physics Inclusion Group  With support from university colleagues, the Institute of Physics South West branch, and employees of Network Rail, Met Office, Tech Exeter, and Exeter Science Park, she founded PRISM Exeter in July 2018 – an LGBTQ+ STEMM network advocating for improved diversity and inclusion across all protected characteristics. When not working, you’ll likely find her tweaking her FPL fantasy football team or sharing cuddles with her two pet rats with her fiancee.”

See Claire’s LGBTQ+ STEM interview here.

Claire Malone (she/her)

“I am a member of the High Energy Physics group at the University of Cambridge, using data from the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, searching for evidence of new physical phenomena to complete our model of particle interactions, the Standard Model. These phenomena could manifest in the form of particles whose properties mirror those of the particles that we’re already familiar with, such as electrons and photons. It is these elusive particles that I aim to discover.

In my spare time I enjoy reading (and sometimes writing) sci-fi novels as well as campaigning for the inclusion of minorities in STEM.”

See Claire’s LGBTQ+ STEM interview here.

Dr Craig Poku (he/they)

Craig Poku is a postdoctoral researcher in Climate Sciences at the University of Leeds, who identifies as a queer Black British cis-male.  He completed an undergraduate degree in Mathematics from King’s College London, where it obtained a 1st Class Honours.  In 2015, he moved to Leeds where he went onto complete a PhD in Atmospheric Sciences which focused on improving UK fog forecasts by understanding how to improve the modelling of fog microphysics. Following his PhD, he now works on similar research, with a focus on fog over Northern India. Over the past few years, Craig has developed an interest in understanding the intersection between race and climate. He’s passionate to discuss how representation in Climate Sciences could be improved, leading to him to co-lead projects such as Black in Geoscience Week. In his spare time, he likes to get creative which sees him regularly bake and take up activities such as theatre and pottery.

See Craig’s LGBTQ+ STEM interview here; Craig has previously written this blog post for LGBTQ+ STEM.

Emily Harford (she/her)

Emily lives in Oxford with the Reverend Mrs and a demanding tortoiseshell called Mrs Cake. Emily has been a chartered Engineer for five years, and has worked in Electrical Switchgear, Medical Devices, and Commercial Aerospace before settling at least for now in Fusion research. She works in the Office of the Chief Engineer providing guidance and oversight for projects that fall under the umbrella of enabling technologies. She has a particular professional interest in Engineering Ethics, and is supporting the roll-out of statements on Engineering Excellence for the organisation.

See Emily’s LGBTQ+ STEM interview here.

Kate Montague-Hellen (she/her)

“Hi, I’m Kate; I’m a Research Sister in Haemato-Oncology at the University of Sheffield. 

Essentially, I provide NHS patients with various types of blood cancer with the opportunity to access new targeted therapies by enrolling in clinical trials, and supporting them throughout their treatment and beyond.  My background is in Biology (Evolution and Genetics mainly), which overlaps perfectly with the genomic/cytogenetic elements of nursing patients on targeted treatments. 

I have been involved in the LGBTQ+STEM group since its inception (my interview was one of the first!).  I’ve loved seeing it grow, and very excited to see what the future holds.”

See Kate’s LGBTQ+ STEM interview here.

Dr Natasha Stephen (she/her)

Natasha is an ECR lecturer at the University of Plymouth, and Director of their Electron Microscopy Centre, researching the geology of Mars and meteorites using analytical microscopy. She moved to Plymouth after finishing her PhD at Imperial College London and the Natural History Museum.

After a bit of a rocky road in academia, Natasha sought to better understand – and subsequently improve – the research environment, involving herself in various initiatives. She is chair of the Royal Astronomical Society’s Diversity Committee, and a founding member of TIGERinSTEMM.

Outside of work, Natasha can usually be found baking, or in the company of Huxley the house-bunny

Dr Tyler Kelly (they/them; he/his)

Tyler Kelly is a Lecturer and UKRI Future Leaders Fellow in Geometry in the School of Mathematics at the University of Birmingham. Kelly is an algebraic geometer whose research surrounds the field of mirror symmetry, a conjectural framework that links two fields in geometry via dualities in string theory. Recently, they have served as local organiser for the LGBTQ+ STEMinar 2020 at Birmingham and currently serves as a member of the London Mathematical Society’s Women and Diversity in Mathematics Committee.

See Tyler’s LGBTQ+ STEM interview here.

Dr Verena Gortz (she/her)

Verena is a chemist and senior lecturer at Lancaster University, who is interested in soft materials, in particular liquid crystals.

The influence of liquid crystals on recent history is hard to overstate -with lightweight and thin liquid crystal displays, portable computing devices and mobile phones became a reality, as did social networking sites such as Facebook or Twitter. But liquid crystals are of course much more diverse! They rely on self-organisation on the microscopic scale, which Verena and her group are studying to realise new types of soft materials, e.g. micron-sized artificial muscles.

Verena is a cis woman and a lesbian. She lives with her partner Jay, a librarian, in Lancaster. They do not currently have any cats.

Twitter handle: @DrV_So

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