Tell us a little bit about you:
I’m Jinglang Feng (you can call me Jade), a lecturer in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. I am from China and I have studied and worked in different countries before moving to Glasgow to start my professional career here. I love outdoor activities, e.g. hiking, camping, cycling, snowboarding. I also enjoy various types of music and arts.
What is your area of research and what project(s) are you working on now?
My research focuses on space, in particular on analytical and numerical simulations about satellite’s motion around a celestial body contributing to space mission design. Currently, I’m mainly working on a project about robust motion design and uncertainty analysis for a future asteroid exploration mission, together with the European Space Agency.
When was your interest in STEM/your field first sparked and why?
My interest in STEM was sparked when I was in junior high school. I found that I was very interested in physics in particular, as I have been always very curious about how things work and I had very nice physics teachers encouraging me to proceed. Then my interests converged to things related to space stimulated by the rovers that were sent to Mars.
Who or what inspired you to stick with STEM when you were younger?
I don’t think I have a specific role model, but I have read books about outstanding scientists and engineers in different fields, and I have always been in study or working environments where people are passionate about STEM, which has inspired me a lot.
What challenges do you think STEM disciplines face with regards to issues of diversity and inclusion and what should a supportive, inclusive STEM community look like?
Whilst gender equality has improved, the number of women in STEM decreases when the level of position becomes higher e.g. the decisive and policy-make level. This is partly because of the lack of support for women to take on leadership roles whilst balancing family commitments, for example, especially for women with young kids. More flexible working cultures need to be adopted to deal with this issue. A supportive, inclusive STEM community should value people by their capabilities, rather than position level, nationalities, and gender.
In your career, what are the moments that have made you proudest so far?
My proudest moment was when I successfully defended my PhD in 2016 with my self-generated research project. The other one was securing my academic role in a UK university (Strathclyde) in 2019.
Since STEM career paths are rarely easy to navigate, what challenges have you faced along the way?
Academia is a very competitive world. My biggest challenge is figuring out the research pathway to build up my academic career. Meanwhile, the other one is to find ways to initiate and build up collaborations with industry, which I have never done before.
Where do you find support to sustain you in your current career?
I usually go to my mentor for his feedback and suggestions about my current progress and struggles. The other important support I have found is from other early career colleagues through sharing our experiences in career planning and funding applications.
What advice would you give to a young person considering a career in STEM?
STEM subjects cover many broad fields where you can really develop your passions into your career if you are interested. But consider whether you would like to be in academia, where innovations and the new knowledge you generate might not be applied to the world immediately, or industry, which directly focuses on products or services for society.
Fun question: Tell us two truths and a lie about you.
a) I have two bunnies as pets. b) I once dived 30 meters deep in the ocean c) I registered to possibly be sent to Mars for one Euro.