What is your educational background?I did my BSc (Mathematics and Physics), HonsBSc (Physics) and MSc (Physics) at Stellenbosch University.
What is your current occupation?I am a PhD candidate in the Oceanography Department at the University of Cape Town. My research is on atmospheric aerosols at the interface of the ocean and atmosphere. We want to improve our knowledge and understanding of the impact of aerosols on climate change.
What or who got you into STEM?From an early age, I had a love for Mathematics and wanted to become a Maths teacher. At University I got hooked on Physics and had a Professor who supported me with bursaries to continue my postgraduate education in Physics.
What is the biggest challenge/barrier you have faced as an African in STEM?After my MSc (Physics) I worked as a Scientist in electro-optics. My inputs and opinions were disregarded despite having the education and qualifications to prove my competence. I struggled until I realized that I don’t need the approval and endorsement of others to know my worth. It was such a liberating thought and experience.
How do you think your background/upbringing has been beneficial in your journey/career?I grew up as an only child and had to fight my battles alone. This helped me to stand my ground in difficult situations during my career as a scientist.
How do you think we can start to change the narrative surrounding African contributions to global STEM research & careers?We as Africans have to promote ourselves. No-one else is going to do it for us. I presented at a conference in France and was the first to do so in the group that took part in an international experiment. It made me realize that we as Africans are well equipped and able to make contributions to the global STEM fields. We have to give ourselves more credit.