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Amy Smith – new visiting doctoral student in physics education research

Amy Smith is a new visiting doctoral student at the Department of Teaching and Learning where she will be working from September to December. She comes from England, and is currently a second year doctoral student in the Physics Education Group at Imperial College London.

Amy Smith
Amy Smith. Photo: Private

Amy Smith has a broad background in physics didactics, both as a teacher and as a doctoral student in various projects. She has a special interest in working to increase the sense of belonging among underrepresented groups in physics.

Amy has come to Stockholm because she has been awarded the prestigious scholarship from the Stevenson fund. The purpose of the scholarship is to support young women who research in male-dominated STEM disciplines by giving them the opportunity to complete an international research placement with a leading female professor at a similar department.

– I became interested in the subject of gender in physics during my time as a teacher when I noticed that girls opted out of physics at the age of 16, even though they liked science, says Amy.

– When I finished my MA, I discovered that even the women who continued to study physics at university felt obstacles to their belonging to the subject. With my research, I hope to better understand the cultural norms that affect students' ability to form a sense of belonging to physics.


Impressed by Anna Danielsson's work

– When I applied for the scholarship at the Stevenson fund, I wanted to come to Sweden and the Department of Teaching and Learning. This is due to the department's and Anna Danielsson's excellent work with gender and identity in physics, says Amy. I am fascinated by Anna's work on “doing gender” in relation to physics – and how our preconceived notions about gender and physics limit the possibilities for identity formation.

– By working with the entire team of researchers at the Department of Teaching and Learning, I hope to have many eye-opening experiences. My own research is conducted in a small group and so I am excited to work in a larger team of researchers working on different things.


Hope to learn and contribute as much as possible

– During my time as a visiting doctoral student at Stockholm University, I hope to learn as much as possible from the expertise in Science Education Research that exists at the university, Amy continues. I look forward to discuss and develop our respective work in identity, science and gender.

– I also hope that I will be able to contribute to Anna Danielsson's work with "The Unexpected Scientist", and also be involved in developing resources for a versatile curriculum.

– I will end my visit by holding a seminar from the research I have done, says Amy. I also hope that I, sometime, will be able to invite researchers from the Department of Teaching and Learning to give a lecture on their own research at Imperial College London.


Future plans?

– After the internship, I will go back to Imperial College London, where I will finish my doctorate, says Amy. But I hope that the connections I have had time to make during my time in Stockholm will be long-lasting - and that we can collaborate again in future projects!