Women in Science
Priyanka is a senior research associate in the Department of Engineering at the University of Oxford. She was recently chosen by the Women’s Engineering Society as one of 2017’s Top 50 Women in Engineering under 35.
at the time of the interview – 2017
Senior Research Associate, Oxford Thermofluids Institute, Dept of Engineering Science.
at the time of the interview - 2017
Priyanka’s interest in science stemmed from a very early age, she was always curious about knowing about the ways things worked and enjoyed “being able to influence the ideas and solutions”. Priyanka was born in India but also lived in Saudi Arabia for a few years and grew up in Canada. Her parents always encouraged her interest in science, and she studied physics, chemistry, maths and further maths at the equivalent of A Level.
Priyanka found her undergraduate degree in Engineering which she did in Canada rewarding as it allowed her to explore her interest in aerospace engineering. However, she found the practical and “applied” aspects of her course a little more difficult and noticed that a lot of the boys in her year had more “hands-on” experience and were a lot more comfortable doing lab experiments. She began to develop a few confidence issues as she didn’t feel like a “proper engineer” because she wasn’t building things and using tools. Priyanka however found that she was better at computational aspects of engineering and decided to focus on those.
Don’t try so hard to fit in and be one of the guys, try and be your own person and value the kind of different perspective that you bring and also try and build a support system outside of work as well.
She feels that many women tend do go down the computational engineering route because they haven’t been given the experience of doing “hands-on” activities in their childhood.
After her undergraduate degree, Priyanka worked in industry where she had a mentor who saw her potential and encouraged her to live up to it. She did her PhD in Australia and her supervisor encouraged her to apply for postdoctoral research at Oxford. Since then she has enjoyed working in a world-leading research laboratory and is the coordinator of the Women in Engineering Network at the University. Priyanka was recently chosen by the Women’s Engineering Society as one of 2017’s Top 50 Women in Engineering under 35.
Priyanka’s message to others wanting to have a career in science is to “try and be your own person and value the different kind of perspective that you bring” and to “build a support network outside of work”. Nationality: Canadian. Ethnic background: South Asian.