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Yasmin Begum: science is for all

Yasmin Begum

14 Mar 2012

Who or what first stimulated your interest in science? And how old were you?
When I was 14 years of age my interest in science rapidly increased because we were able to do experiments and carry out field work; a slightly different arrangement to our other lessons. I particularly enjoyed being able to explore new things such as dissecting organs, synthesising paracetamol, making fireworks, etc.

Do you have a science hero?
I have a great deal of respect for the late Marie Curie. I believe she achieved a great deal considering the era that she lived in. She is remembered for carrying out pioneering work on radioactivity and unfortunately died from the effects of ionising radiation, not known at the time. She supervised the first studies into the treatment of neoplasms with radioactive isotopes, and even conducted some of her experiments in a shed!

Why did you decide to pursue a science career?
There were many subjects that I enjoyed but I chose to pursue science as I enjoyed the problem solving on a multidisciplinary level. I particularly enjoyed Chemistry because I had two very good teachers who always made the lessons enjoyable.

What attracted you to your degree course(s)?
I chose to do a degree in Chemistry as I knew a significant portion of the course would involve lab work. I didn’t want to spend most of my time at university sitting in lectures and writing essays. 

How would you persuade young people that science offers interesting and worthwhile career opportunities?
I would show them scientists working in different areas but who have maybe done similar degrees to each other, and explain that as long as you know the fundamentals, science can take you anywhere!

How did you come to join SCI and why?
When I started my PhD our membership to SCI was paid for by the department, who felt it was worthwhile joining the society.

Is SCI helping you develop your career and how?
Yes, SCI will be kindly giving me a bursary which will help to fund my attendance to an international conference. Delivering an oral presentation at such a high profile venue has allowed me to demonstrate that I can present my results and engage in discussion with experts in my research field. This is something I can write about in my CV and talk about in future interviews.

Is there more that SCI could do to help you and others developing careers in science?
Not that I can think of! I think they are doing a lot already, and are always open to new suggestions.

If you could do one thing to improve the image of science what would it be?
If I had the know-how I would maybe make a short advertisement showing some of the groundbreaking areas of research in science, and how it all started for the people involved. I have a lot of friends who feel you have to be ‘clever’ to do science and that the subject is only suited to certain people. I think encouraging young people that everyone can do science in one form or another is important.

Where do you hope your career will take you in 5 years time?
At the moment I am nearing the end of my PhD studies. In 5 years time I would like to be in a job that utilises the skills I already have but that also allows me to learn about new topics and develop new skills.

You can connect with other SCI members who are in a similar field to Yasmin, through the SCI Members' Directory.

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