Marine biologist dives into new science role

Marine biologist dives into new science role

A marine biologist has secured her dream job in which she hopes to excite Cumbrian school children about science.

Caroline Sharples, 31, is taking up a new position as academic lead for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) outreach at the University of Cumbria.

Her job will show young people how exciting these subjects are and how they permeate every aspect of our lives. The role forms part of the university’s commitment to create more opportunities for young people to participate in STEM subjects in the county.

The news of Caroline’s role comes during British Science Week, a ten-day celebration of science, technology, engineering and maths.

Over the next few months, Caroline has several amazing science events planned.

In May, the university will be hosting a Salters’ Institute Festival of Chemistry, in partnership with the Royal Society of Chemistry, for the first time and the university plans to hold their first festival of biology in July, with support from Hello Future, an initiative to support more young Cumbrian’s into higher education .

The two events will have years 7 and 8 students and teachers on campus. The students will take part in science challenges and will run alongside a separate teacher programme.

“Having a background in STEM makes you really versatile and that’s something I’ve really benefited from in my career,” said Caroline.

“It’s allowed me to go in lots of different directions; and has made me think about the world in a way that is useful in being able to question things and problem solve.

“These skills are really important, even if you don’t want to be a scientist, no matter what career you go into.”

Caroline had a varied career starting off her academic career as a lecturer, then becoming a phytoplankton ecologist for Marine Scotland Science. She then undertook a number of research roles until she changed direction by joining the University of Cumbria formerly as an outreach officer and latterly a data evaluation manager.

Her new role, draws on all aspects of her experience. 

She continued: “I’ve always been interested in science, ever since I was a child and I always wanted to be a marine biologist, and that’s the path I took in both my undergraduate and post graduate courses in marine science.

“I specialised a little bit in deep sea science during my Masters. I have a vivid imagination and the sea has always captured my imagination. My passion for science made me want to share that with other people so outreach has always been a strand I’ve been keenly interested in.

“When I moved to Cumbria, I had a little diversion into data and evaluation of outreach programmes so I guess my new job is putting the two together, which is really exciting.

Caroline hopes to share with young people all the opportunities that are available to them if they take STEM subjects and how they can find their fit. 

Talking about the one difference she hopes to make in this role, she said: “science has had such a massive impact on my life. It makes the world such a vivid and interesting place to think deeply about things, question things and wonder why they are how they are.

“So if I could do one thing it would be to share that passion and help people to see the world in a scientific way because it makes life so interesting.”

To book a place for the Festival of Chemistry, please search for the Salter’s Institute website. The university has lots of information about STEM courses and workshops on its website.