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For she's a jolly good Fellow

Samme Brough at work... Photo: Richard CannonSamme Brough FGS, who works as a geoscientist at Twickenham-based company Ikon Science, has been presented with an award at the House of Lords in recognition of her work as a STEM Ambassador - inspiring young people about the possibilities of careers in science, technology, engineering and maths, writes Dawne Riddle.

Geoscientist online 30 April 2009

Twenty-four year-old Samme Brough won the award for “Most Dedicated Ambassador”. Samme was one of four STEM Ambassadors receiving an award. The STEM Ambassadors Programme is a network of 19,000 science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) people across the UK who work with local schools and colleges on a voluntary basis to run workshops, activities and experiments, give careers talks and mentor promising students. In the majority of cases these Ambassadors are supported by their employers. Over half of them are under 35 and 40% are women. Their day-jobs range from astrophysics to materials technology, web design to sustainability. STEMNET is aiming to recruit 8,000 more STEM Ambassadors by 2011.

Yvonne Baker, Chief Executive of STEMNET, which runs the STEM Ambassador programme said: “Samme has been an outstanding STEM Ambassador since she joined the programme in September 2007. Her enthusiasm for geoscience and communicating this passion to young people was palpable right from the beginning. She has committed time to working with teachers and careers advisers as well as students themselves in an effort to show how rewarding a career in science can be on a personal as well as professional level. Samme is an excellent role model and a very effective science communicator.

“The STEM Ambassadors programme has gone from strength to strength since its establishment in 2002. More and more employers and professionals in science, technology, engineering and maths are realising that for their pioneering work to have a future, a new generation of young people must be interested and excited enough to want to take over the baton. Their support for the STEM Ambassadors Programme, through making it part of their educational outreach, CSR or staff-development programmes can be shown to reap real and tangible rewards all round.”

After being presented with her award, Samme said: “The best thing about being a STEM Ambassador is that I get the chance to go into schools and potentially change the course of a young person’s life. The work I do in schools is not only inspiring to them, it’s inspiring for me and my work as an Ambassador reminds me why I’m doing my job in the first place.”

Samme was presented with her award by Roger Highfield, Editor of New Scientist, who said: “It is a no-brainer that our economy is going to be ever more dependent on STEM subjects; but it is a matter of some angst just how we get young people animated by science and engineering. I love the STEM Ambassador idea. It sends out a signal that science, engineering, technology and maths are useful and relevant. It shows the human face of science (not the crazy, white-haired, old bloke). It gives teachers much needed support. There's no better way to turn kids on to STEM than to connect them with people who have a genuine passion for the subject.

Samme Brough is appearing in a new portrait exhibition called Leading Lights that aims to challenge negative perceptions of what scientists are like. It opens at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester on Friday 1 May and then tours the country.

Photo: Richard Cannon