Industry award for Manchester PhD who’s shining a light on women in STEM
Student experience 28th April 2020
A PhD student from the Department of Materials has been awarded the Robert Perrin Medal by the Institute of Materials, Minerals, and Mining (IOM3). The award is in recognition of her outstanding outreach work.
Rhys Archer is a familiar face on these pages – and around the Department – thanks to her successful campaign Women of Science, which she launched in 2016. However, there are plenty more strings to her bow. She has been a Widening Participation (WP) Fellow for the last five years, delivering Materials Science workshops to widening participation schools across Manchester. During the same period, she’s also worked as a Manchester Access Programme (MAP) tutor.
The Robert Perrin Medal has been presented by IOM3, supported by the Worshipful Company of Armourers and Brasiers, in recognition of Rhys’ work with 11 to 19-year-old students. Through her WP and MAP work, she has helped encourage a love of and fascination in science and engineering among young people.
One of Rhys’ biggest achievements has been the success of her Women of Science campaign, which is approaching four years old. Rhys launched the campaign with funding she won for coming first in I’m an Engineer, Get Me Out Of Here!, in which young people tested her knowledge and voted for their favourite engineer.
Women of Science started small, with Rhys creating leaflets detailing the lives and achievements of different women in science in order to dispel myths and celebrate the work of these often overlooked scientists.
Since then, the campaign has gone from strength to strength and continues to challenge and change the public’s perceptions of female scientists, while supporting women working in STEM.
In an interview for the FSE Hub blog a couple of years ago, Rhys spoke of her motivation for starting Women in Science: “Even if the only impact the campaign has is to make that one young girl feel less alone and show her that she can succeed in her goals despite what others think, then I’ve accomplished more than I could have hoped to.”
Rhys has interviewed dozens of women about their work, and shares their portraits, their stories and inspirational quotes online and on postcards delivered to schools. She is also a familiar face at Bluedot, where festivalgoers are challenged to go on a treasure hunt and find the portraits of women in science that have been hidden around Jodrell Bank.
Recently, Rhys won a large grant from the Royal Society of Chemistry, which she plans to split across three exciting projects. These are the production of an educational colouring in book for primary schools, setting up mentor circles for women working in STEM, including writing retreats and talks, and launching a touring photography exhibition of the portraits taken throughout her campaign.
On top of all that, Rhys is busy completing her PhD in Materials Science with Professor William Sampson and Professor Prasad Potluri. Later this year she will start an EPSRC fellowship in Biomedical Materials Engineering with Professor Julie Gough and Dr Chris Blanford.
We’d like to congratulate Rhys on her well-deserved award!