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Women in Science: May Wheeler

General Cambridge, UK
May Wheeler, FlexEnable Ltd

May Wheeler, with a vocation that comes from school, works as Senior Research Engineer at FlexEnable, as part of the System Design Team. There, as she says: "I like coming up with new ideas which change the way things are typically done".

When did you realise that you wanted to pursue a career in a science and technology field? What were your motivations to make this decision?
In school I really enjoyed physics and maths. I liked to understand how things work and ultimately wanted to learn enough to be able to have a real impact on technology.

Give an overview of your professional path.
I did a BSc, Master’s degree and PhD at the University of Leeds, specialising in molecular electronics and thin film magnetism. I continued in the same group as a Post-doctoral research fellow but realised I wanted to work on less fundamental and more tangible research and development. I became a Scientist at Cambridge Display Technology where I worked on OLED displays, biosensors and energy harvesting. During this time I was also seconded to Japan for 6 months to work at RIKEN, a large Japanese research institute. Following that I joined FlexEnable.

Provide a short overview of your job. What are your main responsibilities?
I am a Senior Research Engineer as part of the System Design Team.  My role is a mixture of project management and technical work. I am project manager on both EU funded and commercial projects as well as managing the internal development of FlexEnable’s display platform. My technical activities are focussed on optical and electrical testing of displays.

What do you find the most rewarding in your job? What do you find the most challenging in your job?
I enjoy problem solving, I particularly like coming up with new ideas which change the way things are typically done. The most challenging aspect of my job is balancing a number of different activities.

What is your role within the FLOIM project? How do you expect your work in FLOIM project to contribute to your career development?
As part of FLOIM, FlexEnable are an end-user in the project.  I am project lead from FlexEnable’s side so I work towards ensuring the demonstrator we are creating meets all of FlexEnable’s requirements and to help resolve technological challenges as they arise. I expect working as part of FLOIM to broaden my experience in the field in terms of project management as well as being exposed to a wide range of cutting-edge technologies.

What would you advice to girl students that want to pursue a career in a science and technology field?
Go for it! Your gender should not influence your ambitions. Pick an area that interests you, work hard and most importantly enjoy your work.