Unique Scientist: Daisy Shearer

Meet the phenomenal Daisy Shearer (She/her)! Daisy is originally from England and is working towards her PhD at the University of Surrey!

What kind of scientist are you?
I’m a physics PhD student at the University of Surrey’s Advanced Technology Institute. My research focuses on finding new ways to manipulate and control the spin state of electrons in semiconductor materials. The ultimate aim of my PhD is to create an electrically controlled Indium antimonide-based spin polarizer which can be used to initalize electron spin qubits for quantum computing and in quantum metrology applications.

What made you want to become a scientist?
I was a very curious child and my parents always encouraged me to investigate how the world around me worked. I found science completely fascinating and initially thought I wanted to be a chemist until we started learning about electron shells. I asked my chemistry teacher to explain this concept of ‘spin’ and she told me to ask a physics teacher! From then on I’ve been fascinated with quantum, atomic and condensed matter physics so it’s not really surprising that I ended up in quantum technologies.

“I am autistic so my brain is wired slightly differently which can be disabling when I try to function in a society and culture designed for the neurotypical brain, but I believe it’s also one of the main reasons I am a good scientist!”

Daisy Shearer

What makes you a #UniqueScientist?
I suppose there are several things which make me unique. Firstly, I’m a female physicist, so very much in the gender minority during my degree and in our research group. I am also autistic so my brain is wired slightly differently which can be disabling when I try to function in a society and culture designed for the neurotypical brain, but I believe it’s also one of the main reasons I am a good scientist! I suffer from recurrent depressive disorder, generalised and social anxiety and speak openly about mental health on social media. Lastly, I identify as panromantic grey-ace so I sit somewhere under the LGBTQ+ umbrella.

What’s something cool you do outside of work?
My main hobby is gardening! I have a lovely back garden and an allotment where I grow my own veg. My love of gardening even inspired a physics outreach project called ‘the quantum garden‘, which aims to enrich the local environment as well as teach people about the amazing quantum technology research we are doing.

“I would like science to be more accessible for people with all kinds of disability.”

Daisy Shearer

If you had one wish and could change anything in science, what would it be?
I would like science to be more accessible for people with all kinds of disability – be it physical, invisible, or neurodivergence etc. There are so many little things scientists can do to make their work more accessible such as using landscape posters for wheelchair users at conferences, considering their choice of colours in figures for colourblind folks and using a microphone with captions during presentations for people with hearing disabilities. I also wish all PhD supervisors had mandatory mental health and disability awareness training to help them help their students.

Who has inspired you the most in your journey to where you are now? My parents most of all as they’re both great scientists and so supportive of me. I’m also inspired by some incredible women in STEM, like Emmy Noether and Daphne Jackson, who didn’t let their gender impact their careers.

Let’s end on a high note! What’s something you’ve done this week that you’re proud of?
I finally got back into my lab and took some measurements after a 3 week mental health break to recover from a bad depressive episode.

Autism Resources (thanks, Daisy!)

#WomenInSTEM #QueerInSTEM #DisabledinSTEM #Neurodiversity #AutisticandSTEM #AutisticInAcademia #ActuallyAutistic #AutismAcceptance #MentalHealth

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