International Women’s Day Continued 2

This year TMOS has decided to continue on the celebration of the women of our centre, from March 8th TMOS will highlight one of the women within our centre. Discussing why IWD is important, what this year’s theme means to them and advice they would give to women and girls who are interested in STEM.

This month we celebrate Niken Priscilla from the University of Melbourne. Niken’s main interest is in materials science. Especially, in the area of nanophotonics. Besides that, she is also curious about learning how mathematics and science are applied to improve our daily life.

Since reading Carl Sagan’s book at the age of 15 Niken has been inspired to learn more about physics and is truly amazed by its elegance. Her experience has aided me in obtaining important skills such as complex problem-solving, research and analysis, programming (in Python, C and MatLab), science communication, critical thinking, events management, communication as well as interpersonal skill and leadership.

"Pursue what you love and most passionate about, make mistakes and learn from them. At the end of the day, your success should not be defined by society standards but your own."

 Q1. What is your name, where do you work and how long have you been an academic in STEM? 

My name is Niken Priscilla, I’m a PhD student in the School of Physics, University of Melbourne. I have been pursuing STEM education since 2015 (8 years). I did Bachelor of Science, Master of Science and now PhD in Melbourne.  

Q2. What does International Women’s’ Day mean to you? This year’s IWD theme is “Cracking the Code” are you excited for there to be such a STEM focus? 

It’s exciting to be seen and celebrated as a minority in STEM. As a woman, especially, of Asian ethnicity, we tend to keep ourselves small and try to fit in whenever we could to feel accepted by the larger majority.  I think it’s important to celebrate part of ourselves that stand out whether it’s our gender, sexuality, ethnicity and creativity. Knowing that women in STEM are recognised internationally, makes me feel proud of my identity. 

Q3. Over the last few years there has been a huge push to increase gender equity within STEM. What have been some of the positive changes you have noticed? 

There are more female staffs and students in our research group. Also, sadly, one of the improvements is that there are now sufficient numbers of female toilets in the physics building.    

Q4. What advice would you give to women and girls who are interested in STEM? 

You are enough and as I would always say to my students, the marks you are getting does not define your worth as a person. So, pursue what you love and most passionate about, make mistakes and learn from them. At the end of the day, your success should not be defined by society standards but your own.  

Q5. TMOS is dedicated to achieving greater gender equity, what are some of the ways you have witnessed this? 

There are a number of female CIs, female only job openings that encourage women to apply, participation in organising inSTEM conference (which is an amazing conference where we could discuss and learn diverse identities in science), plus Greg’s dedication in getting us to complete Symmetra modules.  

Q6. What is your research, and will it impact positively on equity in the future? 

My research has to do with designing and fabricating metasurfaces for phase imaging, or objects that are relatively transparent, such as biological cells. The goal is to make a compact, high resolution, optical filter that is compatible with traditional cameras to detect cells.  

I think it’s a big claim to say that my research project will have positive impacts for equity in the future. As a part of academics, I (or we) tend to be blind to the struggles that real marginalised people are facing. Moreover, we may not realise that our research materials/ resources could came at the expense of indigenous communities and environment. 

Hence, to hopefully make a positive impact, we still have a long way to educate ourselves.

About the author/s

Niken Priscilla

I play music because it takes me on a journey to understand another person’s state of mind, feelings, and sometimes the period where they live. I also enjoy drawing realistic pictures because it allows me to admire every detail of an object. I am currently developing a compact device that helps im ... more