The Science Industry Ambassador of the Year Awards celebrate the brilliant work being done across the industry to inspire young people in their studies and future career aspirations.
The finalists all exemplify the passion and commitment to science through their voluntary work in supporting students, teachers and employers.
Below you can read more about the four finalists. The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony in London on December 4.
Gemma Scotney (Pfizer)
Gemma was a leading figure in restarting an initiative called Community Lab – a collaboration between Pfizer and a number of partners which lets school pupils experience an industrial laboratory – after the Covid pandemic.
She also helped reinvigorate her employer’s work experience programme post-Covid by designing a hands-on initiative allowing a greater number of students to create a medicine and follow it through the development process, and has mentored a first-year biochemistry student to support them with interview skills and career progression through the Black Pharma scheme.
Gemma ascribes her love of science to her “utterly awesome” secondary school teacher, without whom she wouldn’t have continued to study the subject beyond secondary school. She is also passionate about making relatable role models available to young people so they can connect with and be inspired by someone from a similar background.
She believes this should include hearing from people who have overcome challenges – for example, her elder sister has ADHD and instead of this being a barrier believes it has helped her in her career as an engineers, describing the condition as her “superpower”.
Pfizer Executive Director, Liz Collins, and Director, Melanie Hill, say of Gemma: “Her love of science and dedication to equity, diversity and inclusion through both her STEM and Pfizer activities mean she is a role model to students, parents, teachers and colleagues alike.”
Annabelle Nicholson (Victrex)
Annabelle has mentored a student at Blackpool Sixth Form College as part of the Career Ready programme since January, sharing her insights from her educational and career journey to help them identify and pursue their own path in STEM.
She also does careers outreach through a range of activities including careers fairs, supported young people doing work experience with her employers Victrex, judged schools science competitions. This work also included the Royal Chemistry Society’s Find Your Element scheme, which took children from underprivileged backgrounds to Lancaster University for first-hand experience of university life and studying science.
Annabelle went to a small rural school in her Lake District village and this experience has made her passionate about reaching young people in small communities and helping them understand the wide range of science-based study and careers open to them.
She also believes youth organisations have a potentially important role to play in broadening young people’s aspirations and believes STEM should be a key part of this.
Georgia Thomas, CSR Lead at Victrex, said: “Annabelle has demonstrated a first-class commitment to encouraging STEM among young people” and that her work “has directly challenged some of the myths about being a young woman in STEM, has helped open minds and open doors for many young people who might not have otherwise considered a career in the chemical sciences.”
Holly Rimmer (AstraZeneca)
Holly plays a leading role in the AZInspire outreach initiative and has recently been promoted to its global lead for early careers. Through this scheme she has held one-to-one career development sessions with young people and a range of activities at schools and sixth form colleges.
She also led a session during National Careers Week to explore opportunities for apprentices after completion, including a panel featuring ex-apprentices who discussed who to make the most of the opportunity and taking the next steps in their careers.
Holly grew up in a disadvantaged area of the country and didn’t know anyone who had gone into a science-based career while she was at school. However she had great teachers who made science fun and opened up the different careers options studying science could lead to.
She believes it is vital that education and careers outreach responds to children’s curiosity about the world around them – and that such activity must take place early in their schooling as many children form ideas about their futures and careers at a young age.
Associate Director at AstraZeneca, Vicky Rowlands, said: “Holly is a truly exceptional, outstanding individual who champions apprenticeships and working at AZ in everything she does. She regularly goes above and beyond to organise, support and be directly involved in multiple events with young people.”
Don Clark (Pfizer)
Don is responsible for two award-winning initiatives – Science in a Box and Lab in a Box – which have helped hundreds of school pupils get a taste of how their science studies could lead to a rewarding career.
His work has also included acting at Pfizer’s Secondary School STEM coordinator, working with both pupils and teachers to help bring science alive in the classroom.
Don was also a leading figure in restarting the Community Lab initiative post-Covid, which has reached nearly 200 pupils at 12 schools over the last 12 months, and has e-mentored two BAME background students through the Social Mobility Foundation and Greenwich University mentoring programmes.
Don is a long-standing STEM ambassador and with more than 30 years of professional lab experience. He is passionate about reaching pupils early in their schooling before they have formed a firm view about their future studies and careers.
Pfizer Executive Director, Liz Collins, and Director, Melanie Hill, said: “Don is an outstanding STEM ambassador who has been instrumental in the creation and development of many STEM programmes” and “Don’s ability to connect with students, parents, teachers and colleagues is linked to his genuine interest and passion for science.”