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Black Inspirations: Maggie Aderin-Pocock

Written by Comment

In the wake of protests across the world, our writers were invited to discuss a black individual who inspires them. In this article, Lily Holbrook profiles the beloved scientist and Clangers fan.

With an infectious energy that can captivate any listener, Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock is a scientist that inspires.

After studying Astronomy at GCSE and tuning in to her Sky at Night programmes as a teenager, I loved watching her. I became totally enthralled by her complete enthusiasm for anything she talked about.

Born in 1968 (the year before humans first landed on the moon), her whole childhood was inspired by the night sky. With dreams of taking off to explore other worlds, to this day it remains her dream to go into space.

Aderin-Pocock defies the expectation that only white males are capable of a career in space science

With a degree in Physics and a PhD in Mechanical Engineering, Aderin-Pocock defies the typical expectation that only white males are capable of a career in space science. A particular area of interest to me is her work on satellite instrumentation to detect changes in global climate. Here, Aderin-Pocock proves that developments in space have the potential to benefit our small corner of the universe.

Beyond our own planet, a young Maggie saw space as an escape, with no countries or boundaries, and just one human race.

Aderin-Pocock possesses a childlike fascination with the world that has followed her into adulthood. As someone who always asks childish questions – just ask my friends and family – I take comfort in knowing it’s okay to be inquisitive.

“To me, what makes a scientist is being inquisitive: it’s wanting to know things and understand things”

ADERIN-POCOCK, SPEAKING TO THE ROYAL SOCIETY IN 2014

Overcoming dyslexia to translate her ideas into spoken stories, Aderin-Pocock did not have it easy. Still, she believed her father when he told her: “You’ve got challenges and it might take you a little longer… but you will get there.” Her success is a reminder that exams do not define everything, and that where passion exists, there will always be a way.

With a desire to engage her audience in the natural world, she’s been an inspiration for me in highlighting the importance of communicating science. Citizen science projects to discover a new galaxy, getting the world on board to move towards a greener planet, you name it. She’s a prime example of how public engagement is the key to inspiring a new generation of change.

In her own words:

“Believe in yourself, because when you believe in yourself you can achieve so much”

Last modified: 12th June 2020

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