Shortlisted for the WISE Impact Award
Dr Kathryn Woods-Townsend, Life-lab Project Manager, University of Southampton
LifeLab is an innovative educational intervention, actively engaging teenagers and teachers with the science explaining how lifestyle choices at an early age drastically affects future health and the health of their future children, a particularly important message for adolescent girls. A successful research scientist with a PhD in Human Genetics, Kathryn retrained as a secondary school teacher, consolidating her interest in Science, Scientific education and Scientific literacy and has been instrumental in driving forward the LifeLab initiative, contributing her understanding of the educational environment to the smooth running of the project and ensuring its ongoing success. In developing the LifeLab activities, it has been important to ensure that boys and girls are equally motivated, whilst at the same time ensuring that Kathryn, and her team, are seen as role models of successful women in science by the pupils and teachers who attend. To ensure that they maximise opportunities to normalise the gender imbalance, they always have a ratio of 2:1 female:male scientists. Of the 300 researchers on their database, 202 are female and 95 are male, which is a great representation. The schools decide which classes to bring to LifeLab and slightly more female teenagers have attended (55% vs 45%). A passionate advocate for opening up the world of science to school students, a key motivator for Kathryn is to ensure that girls are given opportunities to see themselves as scientists and to support their growing confidence in occupying that role and it appears that LifeLab is doing just that.
Kathryn’s People Like Me types: Explorer, Trainer and Persuader