Rachel Onchuru

See Yourself in STEM - Rachel Onchuru

Tell us a little bit about you:

My name is Rachel Onchuru. I am from Nairobi, Kenya. I am currently a PhD student at the University of Strathclyde. Some of my hobbies include reading, cooking and baking.

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

My area of research is on nanotechnology in pancreatic cancer (Department of Pure and Applied Chemistry).

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

My interest in research was first sparked in university after writing up a research proposal in my 3rd year. I have always been interested in the STEM programme from when I was doing my undergraduate degree. I always thought that it was a brilliant idea to get more people into this field and I am glad to be a part of it now.

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

My greatest inspiration to stick with STEM was my parents. They recognised the gift that was in me and pushed me to believe in what I wanted to achieve and go for it.

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 diversity and inclusion in any field is vital and more so in the STEM community. It would be a dream come true to see people of all races and different backgrounds united and working together in this field for the betterment of our world today.

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

Receiving positive feedback always melts my heart.

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

As a young researcher just starting out, the greatest challenge that I have faced would be not knowing how to navigate this “big” world of research and make an impact.

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

I find support in my family and friends. I am also blessed with an amazing supervisor who does not hesitate to help me in any way possible. I have also been able to make good friends in my team which is important as we’re on the same level and we motivate and encourage each other. That keeps me going.

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

“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” -Norman Vincent Peale. Honestly, go for it. Don’t be afraid. Believe in yourself and you can achieve.

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

a) I once participated in a beauty pageant and won. b) My first pet was a multicoloured bird. c) When I was younger, I carefully considered a career in journalism.