Unique Scientist: Dr. Héloïse F. Stevance

A new scientist takes the spotlight! Meet Dr. Héloïse F. Stevance (She/her), an astrophysicist, illustrator, and science communicator from France currently working at the University of Auckland in New Zealand!

What kind of scientist are you?
I am an astrophysicist! I spent my PhD at the University of Sheffield in England studying the geometry of core collapse supernovae: cosmic explosions that happen at the end of the life of the most massive stars in the Universe! I am now a post-doc at the University of Auckland in New Zealand researching the environments of Gravitational Waves, which are ripples in the fabric of space-time released when neutron stars or black-holes merge.

What made you want to become a scientist?
I’ve always been curious and wanted to understand how the world works. I also love solving puzzles, and the Universe is the biggest puzzle of all.

“You won’t expect a scientist to have their eyeliner on fleek, and you won’t expect the small woman in a dress to love contact sports and to do her daily push-ups… that is, until you’ve met me”

Dr. Héloïse F. Stevance

What makes you a #UniqueScientist?

Being a woman automatically challenges the image you may have of a scientist, but in addition I am also very proud to challenge gender roles more widely through my personality and my passions. You won’t expect a scientist to have their eyeliner on fleek, and you won’t expect the small woman in a dress to love contact sports and to do her daily push-ups… that is, until you’ve met me 😉
I have a passion for diversity (not limited to gender diversity), and I am determined to educate myself and drive change in whatever way I can. One of my proudest achievements to date was to drive the development and writing of the code of conduct for my department at the University of Sheffield.

What’s something cool you do outside of work?
I have a passion for outreach. Spreading my love of science and showing people the wonders of the Universe is a privilege. I also love creating illustrations! Most of them are related to science (astronomy) communication and dissemination, but I’ve done some other works too (e.g. on a friend’s tattoo). Last, but not least, I also practice Roller Derby: think rugby without a ball but with quad-skates. Yeah. It’s awesome.

If you had one wish and could change anything in science, what would it be?
I wish everyone could instantly gain the ability to foster awareness of their unconscious biases and privilege, as well as focus on growth rather than getting defensive if they are called out on a particular behaviour. I guess that’s two wishes in one, but they go hand in hand.

“Spreading my love of science and showing people the wonders of the Universe is a privilege.”

Dr. Héloïse F. Stevance

Who has inspired you the most in your journey to where you are now?
Honestly it’s so tough to single out one person. I am lucky to have had great mentors throughout my studies and I’ve also met amazing people in the Science Twitter community. I wish I was as calm as my supervisors P. Crowther and C. Tadhunter, as wise as my mentor D. Baade, as knowledgeable as my collaborators J.C. Wheeler and P. Hoflich.

I’m inspired by JJ Eldridge everyday to be myself no matter the challenges. Lastly I would like to give and amazing thanks to my friend K. Tehrani, who is the most compassionate person I’ve ever met: she is not just a fierce scientist, she is a positive force in everyone’s lives. I strive to be more like her and I’ve become a better person for knowing her and learning from her over the past few years.

Let’s end on a high note! What’s something you’ve done this week that you’re proud of?
I got my PhD thesis corrections approved! I am officially done!


#WomenInSTEM

UniqueTeam Note: Big thanks to Dr. Stevance for translating our submission form to French!
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