University of Leicester PhD student challenging the scientist stereotype at Soapbox Science event

Posted by er134 at Jul 06, 2016 10:20 AM |
Rosie Johnson will be speaking about her involvement in Leicester’s Juno group in Milton Keynes on Saturday 9 July

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 6 July 2016

Images of Rosie available to download at:

A University of Leicester PhD student will be speaking about her involvement in Leicester’s Juno group at an outreach event aimed at increasing the visibility of women in science.

Rosie Johnson, a PhD student in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Leicester, will be taking part in the Soapbox Science event in Milton Keynes on Saturday 9 July, talking about her observations of Jupiter as part of the ground support for the current NASA Juno mission.

The festival has two aims: to bring the opportunity to meet and interact with scientists to unexpected places, and to increase the visibility of women in science.

In the UK, women account for 35 per cent of PhD science graduates, but only 11 per cent of senior lecturers and less than 8 per cent of professors. The UK has an annual shortfall in domestic supply of around 40,000 new STEM skilled workers.  One solution is to try to retain the women currently being lost from science.

Rosie said: “This isn’t your usual type of outreach event as I’ll be standing in the middle of Milton Keynes shopping centre chatting about my research to passers-by and hoping that some of them will stay and listen.

“This street-performing style of outreach will target members of the general public who wouldn’t necessarily attend a science event or even consider themselves interested in science. By catching the attention of the general public, Soapbox Science aims to break the stereotypes which people often apply to scientists.

“This is the main reason I applied for Soapbox Science – I want to be part of a movement that is challenging the stereotypes. Soapbox Science shows that everyone can fit in the lab coat!”

Rosie will be talking about her studies of Jupiter’s Northern lights – how it is created and how it is influenced by Space Weather (the changing environment of interplanetary space modified by our Sun).

She added: “As well as comparing Jupiter’s aurora to the Earth’s aurora and that of other planets both in and out of our solar system, I’ll also be spreading the Juno excitement. Juno is a spacecraft that arrived at Jupiter on the 5 July this year and I’ll be explaining how I took observations of Jupiter from the Mauna Kea Observatories in Hawaii as part of the ground support for the Juno mission.”

With speakers ranging from PhD students to professors, Soapbox Science represents the full spectrum of the academic career path, and gives speakers themselves the chance to meet and network with other women in science.

Events are open to the public, free of charge, and great fun.  Members of the public can expect hands-on props, experiments and specimens, not to mention bags of passion and enthusiasm.

Soapbox Science co-founder, Dr Seirian Sumner of the University of Bristol, said: “This year, we are delighted to be able to showcase women from a huge range of backgrounds.  These women show that there is no one ‘type’ of person who is a scientist.  Soapbox Science aims to break down pre-conceptions of who a scientist is, and inspire a new generation of girls into science irrespective of their background.”

Rosie concluded: “I really enjoy finding fun and inventive ways to make my research understandable, so hopefully the general public of Milton Keynes will be up for volunteering to be charged particles in Jupiter’s aurora as one of my planned demos.

“I’m super excited to take part in the event but I’m also going to be pretty nervous standing on that soapbox. Once I get going though, I’m sure it’ll be a really great experience taking questions from the general public and meeting all the other amazing women who are working in STEM.”

Rosie will be at the Soapbox Science event, 2-5pm on Saturday 9 July in Centre:MK, Middleton Hall, 24 Silbury Arcade, Milton Keynes MK9 3ES.

For a full line-up and more information visit:


Notes to editors:

For more information and interviews, contact Rosie Johnson at:

Follow updates on Juno via the University of Leicester Staff Juno blog:

Follow Rosie’s personal blog about her experiences while observing Jupiter in Hawaii:

You can watch, download and embed a video about the University’s involvement in the Juno mission at:

Visit the University’s online Media Pack at:

Find out more about the University’s commitment to gender equality at:


Speakers and topics for Soapbox Science Milton Keynes:

  • Gillian Hill (@g1llh1ll), University of Buckingham, ‘From elephants to Uh-ohs: the psychology of insight’.
  • Siobhan Gardiner (@Just_Shiv), Cranfield University, ‘Feed the world’.
  • Dr Julia Cooke (@CookeJulia), Open University, ‘Ingenious Plant Survival Strategies’.
  • Dr Raffaella Villa (@raffavilla12), Cranfield University “Bugs: friends or foes?”
  • Rosie Johnson (@rosiejhnsn), University of Leicester, ‘The aurora: from the Earth to the gas giants and beyond’.
  • Dr Tosin Onabanjo (@tosin_onabanjo), Cranfield University, ‘The roles of microbiomes in the energy economy’.
  • Vibha Srivastava (@VibhaStars), Open University, ‘3D Printing on the Moon: Microwave Processing of Lunar soil’.
  • Dr Joy Sumner (@MaterialsJoy), Cranfield University, ‘Of course I can engineer it to perfection, but there’s just one pesky materials problem I’ve got to sort out first!’
  • Lauren Samet (@LaurenSamet1), University of Northampton,The Use of Nutraceuticals in Animal Welfare’.
  • Laura Crook (@crook_laura), Rothamsted Research, ‘Black-grass: the farmers number one nemesis’.
  • Dr M Carmen Alamar, Cranfield University, ‘Postharvest technology – our buddy in food quality and waste reduction’.
  • Dr Claire Batty (@cabatty1), Open University, ‘Smellementary my dear Watson! The use of Volatile Organic Compounds in Gastrointestinal disease’.


Share this page: