My name is Laura Taajamaa, I am a Scientific Fellow at Science Foundation Ireland. At Science Foundation Ireland, I currently work on Challenge Research Team and we develop funding calls to address grand societal challenges such as climate change, affordable & clean energy and clean water. During the past year, I have been working on delivering new postgraduate student funding instrument to train experts on Data and ICT Skills for the Future. I enjoy swimming, cycling, baking, arts & crafts and reading. When I was in secondary school my hobbies were swimming, scouting and playing piano.
Has your opinion of STEM changed since you were a teenager?
In my opinion, our society, universities and STEM field with them have changed dramatically since I was a teenager. Luckily we are more open and diverse these days. My appreciation of the STEM area grows as I learn more of the amazing work people around the world do.
In your opinion, what is the biggest myth about STEM careers?
The most harmful and restricting myth that I heard during my teenage years was that STEM is for boys only.
Do you believe that there is enough being done to encourage girls to study STEM and pursue STEM careers?
There has been a lot of progress lately, but as long as we do not have gender parity in all levels of STEM arena, there is still work to be done.
What do you love about your current role?
I love the fact that I can stay at the forefront of science and utilise my background from academia to help progress our society.
What has been your most exciting career moment to date?
I have had many exciting moments during my career, but I have to say that one of the highlights was the time spend working at the University of Cambridge. It is such a unique environment with remarkable history and brilliant people, I made some friends that hopefully are for life.
Do you ever get to travel abroad for work?
During my time in academia, I got to travel to Japan, the US, and across Europe. I love getting to know different cultures and countries. Universities are very international and multicultural working environments and I see that as a bonus to help me in my future career. As a Finn working in Ireland, I feel I am travelling abroad for work every day!!
What kind of other experts do you work with on a day to day basis?
I work mainly with scientists from STEM area and research administrators with background in science.
If a young person told you that they would like to get into your role, what advice would you give them?
Study science, be active, open minded and curious.
What are your priorities for the year ahead in your role?
The focus of our team is to develop a challenge-based funding mechanism to tackle and we strive to develop our skills.
Name one thing on your bucket list.
One day I want to travel to China!
What television series are you currently watching?
The Crown and Outlander.
What living person do you most admire, and why?
Former president Mary Robinson for her passionate work for climate and setting a great example for women all over the world.