Celebrating 20 years of STEM Ambassadors, Dr Lydia Bach, Glasgow University


I joined STEM ambassadors during my 3rd year as an undergraduate at the University of Glasgow, so over 12 years ago now. Back then I was really excited to do so, because I had been inspired to do a degree in Marine and Freshwater Biology by my biology teacher at school. She was always encouraging us to be inquisitive and spend a lot of time highlighting role models that made me feel like I could have a place in science. I was hoping that I could do the same in becoming a STEM ambassador. Over the years I have been able to participate in and lead on a lot of exciting projects.


In my final year of undergraduate I was leading a student expedition to Egypt. To chat about some of our work, my team and I visited Hillhead Primary, where we talked about oceans and coral reefs. We also brought some corals along, which the Hunterian loaned us for the day. It was a great success, and I will never forget the great questions and enthusiasm by the students.


I moved on to Belfast for my PhD, where I had a lot of opportunity for STEM engagement. One of memorable activity was during the York Tour de France Grand Depart event, where colleagues and I ran a saltmarsh activity in the University of York tent. We used Lego to show how saltmarshes can disperse waves, so that towns at the coast are less impacted by extreme weather events. It was a great success!


Lydia and colleagues at York Tour de France Grand Depart

I also joined I’m a Scientist – get me out of here! Where I competed with five other scientists from all over the UK to win the hearts and minds of students. It was so much fun, there were a lot of questions, chats and general engagement with different schools and groups of pupils. I had such a blast and am happy to say that I came second!


I returned to Glasgow in 2016 to work in science at the University. During that time, I was able to lead a STEM activity during the Glasgow Science festival. That focussed around using a set of cards to build marine food chains. Whoever build the longest would win. This allowed people to learn more about our UK marine animals and hopefully inspired some to go to the shore and do some rock pooling.


Glasgow Science festival, playing a marine food chain card game. We also had drawing materials for the younger children

Another event that stands out is the Soapbox Science event, at Kelvingrove Museum in Glasgow. Soapbox Science is an opportunity for female researcher to talk about their work and inspire anyone who walks by. I was very lucky with my crowd, as they were really engaged with my food web activity. I really enjoyed this, even though it felt a little out of my

usual comfort zone, because it was on the street, and you had to engage what felt like a random audience.


Soapbox Science activity: Some of my participants got entangled in the web I spun to show how interconnected food chains are

I was able to take part in many exciting STEM activities and hope that I will be able to continue to do so for a long time. I am going to start considering how to widen participation in my own initiatives – how can I make sure more people can access STEM activities, in particular those that might not traditionally have been able to. That means I have to re-think how I engage or make links with people, schools and communities. I am looking forward to seeing what the future holds!