PhD, Chemistry (Medicinal), University of Toronto
HBSc, Chemistry and Biology, University of Toronto
Chief Executive Officer, Visions of Science Network for Learning
When did your love of STEM begin?
Eugenia: My love for STEM really began just when I was little girl, probably 8 to 9 year old. It started off really small, just being able to put together things in my house. Every time there was a furniture set that needed to be built, my mom would always get me to help, or she would always ask me to help. I loved puzzles. I loved anything that required critical thinking. I think this love was also fostered by shows like Bill Nye the Science Guy, shows like Magic School Bus. I really resonated with those things. I had a passion for curiosity. I was really really curious and that was never shied away from in my home. So I think I started really loving STEM from a young age and I think those TV shows had a huge influence on me.
What did you love most about study in your field of STEM?
Eugenia: What I loved most about studying STEM was the fact that everything that I put my mind to, there were more questions. It was never boring. There was always something else that you could find out or needed to know. And I loved being part of a field where the answers to your questions could make a huge impact in people's lives.
I remember I took a Grade 10 biotechnology course, and one of the main requirements was finding a strain of unknown bacteria using everything that you knew throughout the year, and being able to be a detective, and critically think, and remember certain experiments and fail, and then say “okay, let's go back.”
I just love the fact that STEM allows you to really think critically, really challenge yourself to push the envelope with questions. But it also welcomes failure. It's OK to fail because more questions come from that, and you can find that in a lot of other fields.
"Part of my day is just looking ahead. Looking five years down the road with my organization to see how we can position ourselves right now so that we are sustainable.”
What advice would you give to young women considering a career in STEM?
Eugenia: So my advice to a young woman who's interested in pursuing STEM as a career would be stay the course. I know that's very obvious. But I think it's so easy to be distracted by maybe the internal negative reviews about yourself or the external portrayal of yourself. But I think what's really important is to understand that you just doing what you need to do and continuing to do it can make a difference.
I know for myself, there were some years where all I could do was just continue and try and move forward and now I look back at the years where I didn't really know if what I was doing was going to make an impact. I didn't know if the results of some of the hardships that I was facing would be even worth it, but now that I look back it was. I think continuing to pursue it, understanding that there might be some barriers, there might be some things that you have to overcome, but you can do it and you should continue.