Two Churchill postgraduate students, Megan McGregor and Nikita Harri, took part in last Saturday's Cambridge Soap Box Science roadshow — an outreach platform aims to promote women scientists and engage the public in their scientific research.
Those shopping in Cambridge's Market Square on Saturday were treated to Cambridge's first Soap Box Science event, in which scientists from different fields, including two graduate students from Churchill College, took turns speaking at a wooden soapbox. Following the format of London Hyde Park’s Speaker’s Corner, which is historically an arena for public debate, Soapbox Science events aim to transform public areas into an arena for public learning and scientific debate. Launched in London in 2011, Soapbox Science hopes to engage with people who would not normally be exposed to science while also promoting women in science.
Soapbox Science co-founders Dr Seirian Sumner and Dr Nathalie Pettorelli explain their motivation behind the initiative on their website:
"With Soapbox Science, we want to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to enjoy, learn from, heckle, question, probe, interact with and be inspired by some of our leading scientists. No middle man, no powerpoint slide, no amphitheater – just remarkable women in science who are there to amaze you with their latest discoveries, and to answer the science questions you have been burning to ask."
Two Churchill PhD students Megan McGregor (Materials Sciences) and Nikita Hari (Electrical Engineering) were invited to participate in this travelling roadshow, which has been all over the UK and will travel internationally to Australia this year. Having two of our graduate students alongside established Cambridge University researchers is testament to the strength and success of our graduate body, particularly in the sciences.
Megan McGregor, a Materials Science PhD student at Churchill is working on working on intermetallics for high temperature applications. Megan is an active member of the MCR Committee and in 2015 won a teaching award from the Department of Materials Science & Metallurgy.
Speaking about her involvement in this event she said:
"I was attracted to the event because of the opportunity to get people excited about the materials that make up the modern world around us! So much work goes into things that we take for granted and I really wanted to use this platform to demonstrate just one little corner of that to the public."
Megan's talk as part of the Cambridge Soapbox Science event was entitled: Those wondrous women and their flying machines – How can you engineer atoms to make flying leaner and greener?
NIkita Hari, an Electrical Engineering PhD student at Churchill is researching ‘Power Electronic Converters’ with novel devices called ‘GaN’, which can efficiently convert and conserve power. GaN have the potential to jump-start the next generation of more efficient power converters — helping to create a more sustainable future by meeting increasing energy demands with energy savings.
Nikita was the first Chairperson of the EPSRC Centre for Power Electronics Post Graduate Forum and currently serves as the Secretary of IEEE-Cambridge. She is the Conference Director of Beyond Profit Society and a member of the CamAwise Steering Committee.
Nikita hopes that through her work she can tell the world that ‘electric power knows no gender... science knows no gender’!” Speaking about Soapbox Science she said:
"Soapbox Science is the right platform to engage with the public, showcase our research and show them that this is possible for anyone with a passion and love for science. If I can do it, they can do it too!"
Nikita's talk was entitled Electric Power know no gender.