Helena Dodd

“The importance of translating diversity in STEM beyond academia”

It is exciting that within academia and the STEM industry, there is finally awareness of gender and diversity imbalances. However slow progress may feel at times, action is being taken and there are evermore EDI committees emerging, led by amazing role models that showcase how wonderful and diverse academia can be. However, it can be easy to neglect the translation of these diversity initiatives beyond an institutional level. In this talk, I will discuss my experiences leading diversity in STEM groups, and why I think it is important that my work in these groups extends beyond my institution and the academic setting and is translated into the “general public”. I will also discuss lessons I’ve learnt (and mistakes I’ve made!) when doing outreach and public engagement, as well as the importance of understanding role models and relatability and identifying the area in which as an individual you can have the most impact.

Helena Dodd is a PhD candidate at Imperial College London, in the Centre for Doctoral Training in Chemical Biology. Here research sits at the interface between chemistry, materials engineering and immunology, and involves the design and testing of novel nanomaterials for potential cancer immunotherapy applications. Prior to this, she completed an MSci in chemistry at the University of Birmingham. Alongside her research, Helena is the president of the WOMENinSTEM@IC group, a network at Imperial for women in STEM. She also sits on the Women’s Engineering Society University Groups Board. Helena is very passionate about making STEM a more diverse and inclusive place and in her spare time carries out a lot of outreach volunteering, with a particular focus on children from disadvantaged backgrounds. She has founded a number of outreach initiatives and mentoring schemes, involving the delivery of workshops in schools to showcase the practical applications of STEM. For her work on this, she has won a number of awards and was shortlisted for a UK national STEM Inspiration Award in 2017. In early 2020, she was made the youngest ever Head Judge for the UK-wide Big Bang Science Fair.