Imperial College London




Creative, informative & fun WikiChem event held in the Department on 14 June

With the aim of improving the under representation of women in science particularly online, where one of the most popular websites - Wikipedia only has 15.5% of articles on people about women, a WikiChem event was held in the Department on 14 June.

80 students in years 7 to 9 from state schools across West London WikiChemcame to Imperial for a day of talks, tours and wiki-editing. They were in safe hands under the guidance of an expert Wikimedian and historian of science at the Wellcome Trust, Dr Alice White. During the day, students learnt how to judge the reliability of a source, when and where to reference and how to create their own content. Dr Claire Murray, Beamline Support Scientist at the Diamond Light Source also participated in the event. Within 15 minutes of entering the lecture theatre, Claire had the students on their feet - dancing as gases, vibrating as solids and arranging themselves into a molecular crystal. Claire linked the school curriculum to the research on her beam and urged the students to think about their own unconscious biases when it comes to women scientists. MRes student Mikkaila McKeever-Willis shared her accidental journey into chemistry via professional kitchens and fancy hotels.

Chemistry academics helped to compile the list of women for the students to research and with the help of Imperial archives and wonderful books (such as Chemistry was their Life) the students soon became transfixed by their stories. The winning entry (who received the book ‘Hidden Figures’, inspiration of the 2016 film) was for a student from Overton Grange School for her updates to Professor Sue Gibson’s page.

Special thanks to sponsors the Royal Society of Chemistry for funding and supporting the event and to the Department of Chemistry both for supplementing funding and for the enthusiasm and support from colleagues across the Department who helped make this event such a great success. The Diamond Light Facility’s contribution of glow-sticks also helped with the fun environment. Chemist-turned-photographer Roma Galloway, currently undertaking an MRes in the Department was event photographer and greatly helped with the day's activities. Finally a big thank you to co-organisers Dr Jess Wade, Research Associate in the Department of Physics and Outreach expert Dr Melanie Bottrill for their invaluable contributions and sterling work in making the day such a productive, fun and memorable experience for all involved!


Maria Tortelli

Maria Tortelli
Department of Chemistry

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