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Angela Harper

I work on computational modelling of amorphous materials for Li-ion battery applications. Most of what I do uses first-principles modelling in order to simulate the structure of amorphous solids, and my ultimate goal is to simulate how Li-ions move through these materials.

What motivated you to pursue a career in science?

From a young age, I was fortunate to be in a family in which my grandparents were teachers. As a result it was almost in my nature to be inquisitive, and look for new discoveries. Beyond this, I was fortunate enough to have all women teachers in my science and math classes throughout high school, and they not only supported my love for science but also encouraged me to take math classes beyond what was normally required for my age group. I had a great desire to know how the world worked, and my love for math, in particular linear algebra and calculus, inspired me to pursue a university degree in physics. Although I didn't realize it at the time, I do believe that having women role models throughout my years of education was what encouraged me to continue on in science, as I never felt as though my dreams of being a scientist were not possible, despite often being one of only a few women in my courses. At university level, it became more clear that my presence as a woman in physics was rare, and as a result I started a Women in STEM program at my university, to try and encourage more women to be active in their scientific pursuits, and give back in a small way as a role model for younger women considering careers in science. Though I was motivated always to pursue a career in science, because of my love for discovery, I truly believe that it was the continual support from women role models that allowed me to be successful in my pursuit of a PhD in physics.

Anything else you'd like to share with us?

Outside of my scientific career I am also a coxswain for the Cambridge University Boat Club, and recently won the Blondie Boat Race on April 25th.

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