Socrates Programme 2018-19 launched in style

The first Socrates Lecturer of the 2018 programme was Dr Jess Wade, who came to our school to discuss her fascinating career and research. We were also very fortunate to hear her online campaign for women’s equality in science, which will benefit many schools, institutions and research facilities, by popularising women in STEM, through sites such as Twitter and Wikipedia.

Dr Wade is a research scientist for Imperial College, and lectures frequently on her main subject: plastic electronics and OLEDs. The main field she is researching now is bendable screens, such as phones you can cut or fold, or televisions so thin and flexible you could curl them up and transport them in rolls. This topic is extremely relevant, as many companies are quickly making seemingly futuristic upgrades to technology, flexible screens being one of them.

Within bendable technology, Dr Wade incorporates both the practical and the aesthetic side of the subject, by researching  pigments, light, and conductivity, to try and create such an incredible device. During this research, she explores natural pigmentation, using colourful creatures such as butterflies and peacocks, and studies the intricate ways of using light to display their radiant feathers and wings. On the more practical side, she is working on creating a charged silicon through altering the particle structure with electrons, to create one of the first (and the most effective) electric plastic.

Apart from her work, Dr Wade has used the internet to campaign for female equality in STEM. Her inspiration was the lack of women in her laboratory, and many key scientific breakthroughs made by women having been forgotten in history. The first thing she wanted to do, was make sure these women were recognised by the web, so she started a process of making biographies on Wikipedia for many female scientists who never had the amount of recognition they deserve. This caused a huge new rise in followers across many social media platforms, as many people agreed with this campaign. With the help of her Twitter followers, she managed to raise enough money to fund a petition that would allow for every school in Britain to have the book “Inferior” by Angela Saini, an inspirational book which challenges preconceptions about gender differences. This was extremely successful, and Dr Wade has won many awards for her contribution to science, to Wikipedia and to the women’s equality campaign.

Dr Wade is an excellent scientist, an inspirational person, and a gifted speaker, making her lecture an incredible show of groundbreaking technology and inspiring discoveries, that we all enjoyed. I hope we get the chance to hear about her work again.

– Ella McGovern, year 8