Women of STEM

A profile series highlighting women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math

Dr Sheila Kanani, Education, Outreach and Diversity Officer at the Royal Astronomical Society

Dr Sheila Kanani, Education, Outreach and Diversity Officer at the Royal Astronomical Society

Dr Sheila Kanani, Education, Outreach and Diversity Officer at the Royal Astronomical Society

Connect with Sheila on Twitter.

What do you do?

I inspire people to follow STEM subjects using space and astronomy as a hook! I think that astronomy is so exciting, awe inspiring and beautiful and I want others to be as excited by it as I am, so I spend my working days (and some of my personal life) showing and telling everyone how amazing space is!

What does a day in the life look like for you?

I don’t have a ‘normal’ day in my job! One day I might be teaching GCSE Astronomy, the next day I’ll be at a board meeting for a telescope in Tenerife, one day I will be writing articles for our in house magazine or website, and the next I’ll be visiting schools around the UK to tell them about recent space missions!

What is the coolest part of your job?

I’ve always been really excited about space and in particular in planetary science. I really enjoy visiting schools and talking to the public about space, and meeting new people. I get to travel a lot in my job too which is fab!

How did you become interested in your field?

When I was 13 I saw the film ‘Apollo 13’ and I realised I was interested in space, and would love to be an astronaut! I didn’t realise that education and outreach was for me until I was in my late 20s though.

Do you have any media to recommend?

Read everything you can! STEM is in everything, and reading is a great skill. Growing up I enjoyed science fiction a lot. Young people now are really lucky too because they have the internet at their fingertips and you can learn so much from searching for astronomy topics, to listening to podcasts, to tweeting astronauts!

What advice would you give a high school student looking to go into your field?

Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t do it! Work hard, be honest to yourself and you can achieve whatever you put your mind to!

Do you have any "asks" for the reader? Things they should check out or think about?

Ask questions! There are no silly questions, and I learned during my PhD that I should have asked more questions.

Is there anything else we should know?

I’m really lucky that I really love my job. It is my dream job and it brings together research, education, astronomy and people! The only thing that would be it better would be if I could go into space!

Sabriya Stukes, PhD Assistant Director of The Master’s in Translational Medicine program at The City College of New York

Sabriya Stukes, PhD Assistant Director of The Master’s in Translational Medicine program at The City College of New York

Meriame Berboucha, MRes (Photonics) Student, Forbes Contributor, Science Mixtape producer, Imperial College London and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

Meriame Berboucha, MRes (Photonics) Student, Forbes Contributor, Science Mixtape producer, Imperial College London and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory