Ellie Gomes-Callus

Policy Officer, UK Government

HOW I CAME TO STEM

I have always identified as a ‘science’ person rather than a ‘humanities’ person. As a child, I was known for continuously asking questions, always wanting to know why things happened the way they did or how things were the way they were. I believe that it was this inquisitiveness that led me to begin my STEM journey as – unlike humanities subjects – with science and maths, there was always an answer to my question. I found high levels of reward in finding the solutions to multifaceted puzzles. I also enjoyed developing my problem-solving skills and the ability to think critically in Maths-based subjects as well as gaining an in depth understanding of physical and natural world in Science-based subjects. This enjoyment was something that continued throughout my entire time at school.

When the time came for me to choose my undergraduate degree, I couldn’t choose between my A-Levels: Maths, Chemistry and Geography – there was an aspect of each subject that I wanted to continue to expand academically. I was thrilled when I discovered this was possible with a Natural Sciences degree. The flexibility of this course meant that my undergraduate experience was varied and tailored to my personal interests within STEM. I am grateful that this degree not only gave me a breath of knowledge and skills in various STEM subjects but also that it helped me realise what sector I wanted to use these STEM abilities within.

During a group research project that modelled the use of solar power and biofuel for transport, I was exposed to the urgency and complexity in identifying sustainable solutions. Since then, I have wanted to expand this understanding further with the aim of discovering how ground-breaking scientific research is paired with other factors to influence policy and change on a societal level. I followed this interest further by completing a postgraduate degree in Green Chemistry and by starting to pursue a career that combines STEM with the aim of net zero. This included stints as a Solar and Energy Storage Analyst in Shanghai and as a Research Scientist at a start-up for novel battery storage technologies.

The analytical and intellectually stimulating nature of STEM subjects is something that has sustained my enthusiasm year after year, and I am sure it will continue to do so for many years to come!

WHY I LOVE WHAT I DO

I love what I do because I get to see, first-hand, how scientific evidence and research is used in decision-making across the Government. It is also great to see this act celebrated and championed within BEIS to aid and better the ability of creating policy as this allows me to learn how to utilise my STEM abilities in a wider context.

In my current role, I work within oil and gas policy. I enjoy this role because it provides me with the opportunity to drive real change. My work focusses on aligning the oil and gas sector with the Government’s net zero priorities whilst sustaining energy security within the UK and maintaining the sector’s commercial value. Because of this, I work at an interesting interface between government and industry that facilitates and supports innovative solutions and encourages collaboration with other STEM professionals.

Furthermore, the forward-thinking nature of policy within net zero is rewarding for various reasons, however, for me, a primary reason is that many of the policies rely on STEM-related skills and workforces. It is exciting to know that the policies that I am contributing to will lead to the need, and subsequently the creation, of STEM opportunities and jobs. I hope that prospect of working in an area as important and stimulating as net zero (within energy) can serve as a basis to raise awareness and promote STEM to future generations.

WHAT I’M PROUD OF AND WHAT I’M HOPING TO ACHIEVE THROUGH THE WYPB

I am proud of my upbringing and my journey; however, as an ethnic minority woman from a lower-socioeconomic background, I have had to overcome various barriers throughout my academic and professional experiences. Unfortunately, as part of the STEM community, these barriers have been exacerbated further. Through a combination of support, positive role models and a passion for STEM that did not deter, I was fortunate enough to conquer most of these barriers. However, this is not the case of all women like myself. When I think of these women, it urges me to strive for change and work towards the removal of such barriers for those young girls who can’t help but to enjoy STEM subjects. I hope, as a member of the WYPB, I will be able to contribute to this goal and to lead meaningful change with regards to diversity and inclusion in STEM. I believe that this is important as it, not only, drives creativity and innovation within STEM industries, but also, provides a wider range of available skills and celebrates multiplicity. The WYPB provides real opportunity to inspire young girls and women and to make a difference within the STEM community and I am proud, and grateful, that I am part of this collective.

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