WiSW Ep 24 – Anna – The Scientist

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Women in STEM Wednesday is an IGTV show that aims to normalize the ideas of females in male dominated fields. We want to make awareness, so more students can see people who are like them in STEM. We do this with one because of our vision. This IGTV series aims to showcase the hardships, tips, and the journey of females in STEM, so more women can be compelled to enter this amazing world.

Quick words from Anna,

“ Anna Ampaw is a 5th year Chemistry PhD Candidate at the University of Ottawa. She’s in her last stretch of her studies and will be continuing her career as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Toronto in the fall. During the pandemic, Anna also started a non-profit organization called EFeMS, which aims to encourage women in Africa to continue up the STEM ladder and thrive in their fields. Through her journey, Anna has learned so much along the way and always tries to share her experiences with others.  ”

What made you study Chemistry? Were you good at math as a kid?

I like to say that chemistry chose me because it was not my first choice but I just fell into it and started to gain an interest as I went along. I used to LOVE math as a kid and was pretty good at it until first year calculus in uni…. Which really killed the love.

What was your hardest class? Did you have tutors?

Physics hands down! To this day I still find physics very difficult to understand. No I didn’t have any tutors, I was usually the person tutoring others in their math/science courses. And to this day I still tutor because I love teaching.

Why do you wanna get a PhD Chemistry?

I’m doing a PhD in Chemistry because I love learning and I love discovering and chemistry is the basis of life. The fact that you can take the smallest form of matter and combine to form molecules that can be used biologically and in other applications is so interesting to me. And the reason why I’ve gone all the way to do a PhD is because I want to contribute to the field. I also want to discover and create something new that can be used to solve a problem in the world.

Do you have any tips for graduate students?

WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN. And I mean EVERYTHING. Don’t think that you’ll remember it later because you probably won’t. I’ve done this so many time and have regretted it, especially when writing my thesis. Also, be kind to yourself. Remember that your worth isn’t a reflection of the experiments you do or the number of papers you write. Your worth is based off of who you are as a person.

What’s the difference between being a grad student and an undergrad student?

They are both completely different experiences. As an undergrad student you are trying to learn so much and cram so much in your head for the purpose of an exam. As a grad student it’s a different learning experience because you are trying to become an expert in a field so that you can also contribute to it.

What is the most interesting project during your tenure as a student?

The focus of my Ph.D. research is probably the most interesting work that I have done so far. You can learn more about it here….

Do you think you found your life calling?

I know that I have been strategically placed in the position that I’m in for a reason. Whether it’s to contribute to my field, make an impact, or help others along the way, I know that I am here for a reason. But I also think your calling isn’t limited to your profession, so I would say that I have found only a small part of my life calling 🙂

Why do you think it’s important to have diversity in STEM?

Having diversity in STEM is important because of the nature of the field. STEM is a very creative field so it’s important to have a diverse array of mindsets contributing to the field. People that come from the same background often have similar outlooks on life so I think it’s important for STEM to be filled with people who have different mindsets and approach problems differently because you will never know in whose mind lies the answer to the latest problem.

Why was it important for you to come join our WiS community?

I think its important to show that you can’t put scientists in a box. My profession doesn’t encompass who I am as a person. It contributes to who I am but I also have many other parts to me, other interests, other hobbies.

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