Lauren Gilmour

See Yourself in STEM - Lauren Gilmour

Tell us a little bit about you:

I’m from Glasgow and I really enjoy cooking, languages, travelling and music. I’m always seeking out authentic recipes from around the world to try and planning an upcoming trip!

What is your area of research and what project(s) are you working on now?

I’m a PhD student in Biomedical Engineering. My research is focussed on trying to better understand the mechanisms behind drug delivery using ultrasound and microbubbles. At the moment, I’m trying to 3D print small diameter channels that respond to ultrasound similarly to tissue and that can be used in the lab to simulate what takes place when microbubbles and ultrasound interact in the body. By doing this, we can hopefully optimise the therapy so that it’s one step closer to helping people in a clinical setting.

When was your interest in STEM/your field first sparked and why?

I’ve always been fascinated by science and I remember bookmarking my favourite pages about the planets and crystals in the family encyclopaedia. I also always liked learning about the different parts of the body and my interest in biology really grew as I got older. I was drawn to drug delivery as I began to understand more about disease and treatments, and the fact that even excellent drugs can fail or have terrible side effects in patients if they aren’t targeted or delivered efficiently.

Who or what inspired you to stick with STEM when you were younger?

I was definitely quite self-motivated to study STEM and I didn’t ever think about not going down that path even though most people I knew weren’t as interested in it as I was. I had a few excellent high school teachers who made STEM interesting and exciting, which made me enjoy it even more. The opportunity to do research investigations at advanced higher level was really exciting and I think something similar would have been excellent at an earlier stage. Inspiration always came from watching documentaries and keeping up with scientific discoveries online and in magazines.

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?

I think STEM disciplines face challenges around the perception of the kind of people that are likely to be interested or successful in STEM. It’s important that we do not perpetuate these outdated ideas and instead be supportive and inclusive to everyone in the community. Also, I believe that proper representation at senior levels in STEM is important for diversity and inclusion, rather than being focussed largely at recruitment. There are also the issues of job stability, security and workload that are barriers to careers in academia, particularly, for some groups of people more than others. By improving this, I believe more people will view a career in STEM as desirable and fulfilling.

In your career, what are the moments that have made you proudest so far?

As a first-year doctoral researcher, my ‘career’ has only really begun recently, however, my proudest moments are when I learn or achieve something that has required a lot of effort and determination. I feel a sense of accomplishment in knowing that I’ve pushed myself out of my comfort zone and have really expanded my knowledge and gained a new skill.

Since STEM career paths are rarely easy to navigate, what challenges have you faced along the way?

I’ve faced challenges in deciding which skills and knowledge areas to develop according to my personal interests versus employability and job requirements. Often these would naturally align, however, sometimes there can be stress surrounding what you ‘should’ know or be better at.

Where do you find support to sustain you in your current career?

I find support in my family and friends as well as dedicating time to my other interests and hobbies. I think it’s important to remember that you and your career are not one in the same and that celebrating your accomplishments is crucial!

What advice would you give to a young person considering a career in STEM?

There is such a huge range of careers in STEM that I’d encourage young people to explore the options and see what aligns most with their interests. Even within a specific discipline, work can vary greatly and most often, the skills you learn in one field are transferrable to many others.

Fun question: Tell us two truths and a lie about you.

a) I’ve never tried tomato ketchup. b) My natural hair colour is ginger. c) I play the violin.