Month: March 2024

International Women’s Day #WomenonWednesdays: Michele Dougherty

This International Women’s Day I sat down with Michele Dougherty to talk about her journey, research, and experiences as a Woman in Physics. Thank you very very much for your time Michele and we wish you the best of luck as you move to the Institute of Physics!

As an introduction, what is your area of expertise within physics and what has been your journey to where you are now?

I am a planetary scientist. So what my team does is they build instruments, magnetometers, that fly o

n spacecraft and my focus in the last 20 years or so has been Saturn and its moons, and now it’s Jupiter and its moons; there‚Äôs an instrument on its way to Jupiter. And the way in which I got into this area was rather a roundabout way. I was actually trained as an applied mathematician. I was at an all girls school in South Africa and I didn’t do science and I was really fortunate, my dad worked at the local university and they were prepared to take a chance on me, so I did a BSc without having done science and the first year was really hard. I remember I’d go home every evening and my dad would go through the lecture notes with me. So it took me a while to feel that I’d come up to speed, but I got a PhD in applied maths and then I was in Germany for two years on a fellowship and then I came to imperial as a postdoc on a two year contract and I was asked if I wanted to put a magnetic field model together for Jupiter. I knew nothing about either. And I thought yeah, that sounded cool. So I said yes. And so that’s how I ended up doing what I do.