Inspiring Woman 2020

Alicia Petersen

Alicia is a Swansea University Science for School’s Scheme Outreach Tutor. She holds undergraduate and master’s degrees in biosciences and chose to join Swansea University's Science for Schools Scheme (S4) as a tutor because of her passion for Zoology, and her love of working to engage kids from difficult backgrounds with science. Alicia is a Swansea native, a keen lover of animals and all things nature. She is an absolute wealth of science facts and wows S4’s students with her knowledge of the animal world. We work with school students from extremely difficult backgrounds and they thrive under Alicia’s kind, accessible and nurturing tutorship. Alicia is an inspiration to the students she works with.

Alicia is one of S4’s most highly praised tutor’s in feedback from our participants, many of whom are not used to enjoying school or science. Our participants are asked to comment on which part of the science workshop they enjoyed the most, and to tell us about an Outreach Tutor who they found particularly inspiring,

Ali receives a huge number of comments: ‘Ali because she helped and talked to the group and because she was kind, she helped us a lot’; ‘I enjoyed doing the experiments. Especially the experiment with the liquid nitrogen with Ali’; ‘I loved all of it because Ali was here’.

We also receive comments from our partner schoolteachers with one noting, “Ali took the time to work one-on-one with a pupil, and she was amazing.”

S4’s main goal is to inspire and engage students who are struggling with their science education and reignite their enjoyment of their science education. Scientists like Alicia are an essential part of such widening access goals; she is a wonderful role model to our participants.

S4 is a widening access science project, a critical part of that is working to make science equally accessible for all people, from all walks of life. Alicia is so important to that core mission because, as a Welsh woman in science herself, and with experience of the kinds of issues our students face in their lives, she inspires belief in their capacity to achieve in their education. Science inclusivity needs young people to see that scientists are people like them, whoever they are, and one of the most important ways we challenge stereotypes in science is to place diversity in the science lab. One of Alicia’s greatest strengths in effecting positive changes in our participant’s view of science is that she gives them an amazing role model, who loves to bake vegan cakes, is an amazing dancer, lives in their city, and has a great knowledge of Zoology. She is an absolute inspiration to teachers and pupils alike.