Dr Jodie Fisher

A technician at the University of Plymouth has been shortlisted for a national award in recognition of her efforts to support others wanting to succeed in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).

Dr Jodie Fisher, Earth Science Technician in the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, is among the finalists in the WISE Awards 2018 (The WISE Campaign).

The awards aim to recognise inspiring individuals and organisations who are actively working to address the core concerns of WISE, promoting STEM to girls and women.

Dr Fisher is one of three finalists in the running for the WISE Technician Award, sponsored by the Royal Air Force, and the winner will be announced at a celebration event in London in November. She said:

“I have always seen being a technician as hugely rewarding. I get to support research and teaching, whilst also working to promote STEM through outreach activities, demonstrating the many opportunities available in the sciences, especially to young women and girls. With the Technician Commitment having recently come into force, it is amazing to be down to the final three for these awards and I am really honoured to have been nominated, and excited about the ceremony in November.”

Dr Fisher first came to Plymouth in 2001 to start her PhD, in which she used isotopes, geochemistry and micropalaeontology to determine climate change 90 million years ago.

She began working as a technician in 2012, and her work includes supporting and supervising undergraduate and postgraduate students, running the earth science research lab, undertaking teaching, and playing an active role in outreach with local schools alongside the Devon & Cornwall Children’s University.

Dr Fisher has also been instrumental in the success of the award-winning Girls into Geoscience, an annual event which aims to encourage girls and young women to realise the potential of a career in the earth sciences.

The WISE Awards 2018 will be attended by 450 women from the STEM sector, with the awards being presented by HRH The Princess Royal, royal patron of WISE.

Helen Wollaston, Chief Executive of WISE said:

“The WISE Awards are an incredible opportunity to find role models who are blazing a trail and inspiring others to follow in their footsteps. From the classroom to the boardroom – there are some fantastic examples to show what can be done to get more girls and women into STEM as well as truly inspirational stories from women making a difference through science, technology and engineering. Congratulations to all our finalists, We look forward to celebrating with you in November and working with you to grow the reach and impact of the campaign.”

Dr Jodie Fisher, Earth Science Technician, said:

With the Technician Commitment having recently come into force, it is amazing to be down to the final three for these awards and I am really honoured to have been nominated

Watch our video about Dr Fisher and her work

Launched in 2014, more than 975 pupils from schools across the UK have participated in this pioneering event

Here Dr Jodie Fisher, Co-founder of Girls into Geoscience, explains how this exciting event will introduce female A level students to the Earth sciences and demonstrate the world of careers open to earth science graduates today. 
GiG received the Geological Society's R H Worth Award for 2018, presented in recognition of achievements in outreach, public engagement and/or education.

Technical careers at the University of Plymouth

Degree courses at the University of Plymouth are underpinned by a significant element of practical classes and fieldwork. They are designed to meet the needs of industry and commerce and an emphasis on experiential learning aims to equip our students with the skills required for the workplace. While the theory is delivered by our academics, much of the practice is supported by our technicians.

Traditionally technical roles have neither been well understood nor recognised. However, the role has been evolving and has assumed greater significance as pressure on academic roles has increased. Technicians are now highly skilled, many have degrees and a growing number have doctorates. Academics and students alike rely on their support in laboratories, workshops, studios and the field, where their development of techniques and expertise in the use of complex equipment is vital.

From boat skippers to circuit board designers

The University of Plymouth has a cohort of 180 technicians at all grades, from apprentice to Faculty Technical Manager, supporting a broad range of subject areas across our five faculties. Roles are therefore very varied and no two roles are the same. For example we employ technicians who:

  • support the operation of our wave tank in the COAST Lab
  • teach the use of CNC machines in our engineering workshop
  • skipper our fleet of boats based at the Marine Station
  • write programmes for psychology projects
  • support digital skills development for undergraduates in the Plymouth Business School
  • design and manufacture printed circuit boards
  • provide clinical skills training for medical students
  • run lighting, sound and projection facilities in our theatres and studios
  • produce digital maps using equipment deployed in drones and quad bikes
  • support laboratory and field work in terrestrial and marine disciplines.