Women in Science – Jasia King – PhD Student

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Jasia King

Sciences and Mathematics are subjects with such beautiful concepts and phenomena that have fascinated me all my life. From watching shows such as Robot Wars and Cosmos; reading Richard Feynman’s books on quantum electrodynamics to Discover Magazine, I love it all. The puzzle of how things work and more interestingly, why they do not,captured my attention.I would read my father’s medical textbooks admiring the complexity of the human body and how it can be such a fantastically efficient but sometimes flawed machine. I would observe how we function and try to make correlation between issues experienced and how to fix them. Also, simply admiring nature at its best, at the beach and open waters (where I am usually found).

I carried my passion through all of my schooling. I opted for the Sciences stream at St. Joseph’s Convent Secondary School and studied Mathematics, Chemistry and Physics A-Levels at Sir Arthur Lewis Community College (SALCC). At SALCC, I started reading on concepts of Fluid Mechanics and I knew that I wanted to learn more about them. I attained a bachelor degree in Mechanical Engineering in Canada and a Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering in Scotland. I am currently undertaking my PhD in the Netherlands at the MERLN Institute for Technology-Inspired Regenerative Medicine, Maastricht University. My research focuses on further developing a bioengineered kidney using mathematical modelling (programming equations to predict the behaviour of the fluid system to create informed decisions about the physical device) and microfluidic fabrication techniques. I can use both of my degrees to explore the interface of engineering and medicine to create a device that can help millions of people suffering with renal failure undergoing dialysis as treatment.

I continue to enjoy every step of the journey, and learn from the less pleasant situations. I have had people tell me that women do not belong in Mechanical Engineering. Some would laugh and say, “No, really. What degree do you have?”. Coming from a male dominated field, these actions were frequent, and I started to feel that maybe, I did not belong. I would apologise for asking questions and belittle my own opinion. I had to learn to own up to my qualifications and be proud of what I can offer. It taught me to be assertive and understand that there is value in what I have to say.

My advice would be that you should go after what you desire, do not shy away from an area because you may be a minority. Being different is a blessing. Innovation comes from diverse thinking and experiences. You should always ask questions and it is okay to not know all the answers. Most of all, you must be proud of how far you have come and be excited for the next step.You have worked hard to get to where you are, own it!

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