Tell us a little bit about you:
My name is Lucy Sinclair, and I am a second-year PhD researcher in the Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering at the University of Strathclyde. Before my PhD, I studied a BEng in Biomedical Engineering also at the University of Strathclyde. I love being a part of the STEM community and sharing my enthusiasm with young people who are considering a future in STEM. In my free time I enjoy running, travelling (pre-restrictions!) and socialising with friends.
What is your area of research and what project(s) are you working on now?
I conduct my PhD research in a unique multi-disciplinary facility which combines both a Microbiology and Electrical Engineering Laboratory. The focus area of my research group is on the development of electro-technologies to tackle public health problems and together we aim to provide solutions to demanding clinical challenges by supporting the development of new medical technologies. My specific research area is focussed on developing and optimising antimicrobial visible light as a method of decontamination within healthcare environments. I find working in clinical infection control and prevention extremely interesting and rewarding, and I love that my research allows me to combine my interests in both engineering and healthcare.
When was your interest in STEM/your field first sparked and why?
I have been interested in STEM subjects from a young age, and in school I particularly enjoyed Biology, Maths and Physics. I became fascinated by the idea that these separate disciplines could be combined together, and this led me to my degree in Biomedical Engineering. During my undergraduate degree in Biomedical Engineering, I completed my dissertation project in the laboratory I work in currently. Being surrounded by inspiring researchers, learning exciting new techniques and realising the ability to contribute towards an exciting area of research definitely inspired me to be where I am today.
Who or what inspired you to stick with STEM when you were younger?
My family were always extremely encouraging and supportive when I was choosing my career path. I was also lucky to have great teachers in school for my STEM subjects who definitely inspired and encouraged me to continue to pursue a career in this field.
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?
In my own experience as a female engineer, I can appreciate the sometimes lacking female representation within STEM. Throughout my undergraduate degree, I often found myself in lecture halls with over 300 students, of which around only 10% were women! I think female representation within STEM has become a lot better, but there is still room for improvement. It is so important that young people are educated on the career options available to them regardless of their identities. In my opinion, a supportive and inclusive STEM community is one which supports and encourages each and every member and provides everyone with equal opportunity to pursue their chosen career path.
In your career, what are the moments that have made you proudest so far?
My proudest moments in my career to date are graduating from my undergraduate degree with First Class Honours and being selected as a candidate for PhD research. It is so rewarding to see what can be achieved with hard work and perseverance!
Since STEM career paths are rarely easy to navigate, what challenges have you faced along the way?
Although the diversity of career paths available within STEM is great, it can also be daunting when trying to work out which career path is right for you! My advice would be to trust your instincts and choose to do what you enjoy. In school I was encouraged to choose either Biology or Physics and was told the two subjects would never be needed together – yet here I am with a degree which combines both! I have also found that working in amongst a community of people with such intelligence and competence can lead to feelings of imposter syndrome. Be confident in your ability and acknowledge your achievements, as that’s what got you where you are today.
Where do you find support to sustain you in your current career?
I am extremely lucky to have an amazing supervisor and research group who provide me with so much support and motivation in my career. Outside of work, I am really close with my family and friends who are always there to reassure and encourage me.
What advice would you give to a young person considering a career in STEM?
I would encourage everyone with an interest in a STEM future to go for it! There are such a diverse range of exciting career opportunities within STEM and there is always something to suit you and your strengths. My advice to young people who are currently considering a career in STEM would be to get as much experience as possible, ask lots of questions and make time to research the different routes which may be of interest to you.
Fun question: Tell us two truths and a lie about you.
a) Isa from Still Game is my Mum’s best friend. b) I have bumped into Paul Rudd in the middle of the street before. c) I once played a role as an extra in Waterloo Road.