Professor Molly Stevens FREng is a Professor of Biomedical Materials and Regenerative Medicine at Imperial College London
“I get excited about engineering advanced systems with new capabilities and pushing the boundaries.”
How would you describe your current role to someone who knows nothing about engineering?
We develop materials for healthcare applications at Imperial College London. In particular we design and develop materials that are bio-inspired based on our understanding of the body, physiology and cellular behaviour. We use a multidisciplinary approach based on engineering, chemistry, biology, physics and medicine to develop materials to regenerate diseased body tissue and to detect early stages of disease in the body such as cancer and infectious diseases.
Why did you choose to go into engineering?
I was fortunate to have conducted my postdoctoral training in the labs of Professor Robert Langer in the Chemical Engineering Department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Bob is one of the most well-respected and successful engineers around the globe, and he really inspired me to move into engineering as a research field.
What do you like most about being an engineer?
Engineering is enabling for so many of great technologies and turns them into realities. I get excited about engineering advanced systems with new capabilities and pushing the boundaries of our current limitations in established technologies. My research group has many engineers that work alongside other scientists such as chemists and biologists amongst others.
Tell us about an achievement which you are most proud of.
There are numerous research developments that are exciting to me on a daily basis – I love seeing an idea go through the brainstorming stage, through to prototype optimisation and to turn into something useful. I am most proud though of the people in my group who are not only highly motivated and wonderful scientists but also work together in a very collaborative way. Many of them have now gone on to lead their own independent groups as well as co-found spin-out activities.
How do you think gender parity in engineering can be achieved?
I am not sure that there is “one” magic answer here but I think that ensuring a fair, transparent and supportive environment for all researchers (male and female) has to be a priority.
How has being a woman in engineering changed since you started working in the engineering sector?
I was the first female full professor within the Department of Materials and I am still the only one within the Bioengineering Department at Imperial College but I can see some terrific women now coming through the pipeline to join me.
What would you say to someone considering a career in engineering?
There are many, many potential areas in which you can make an impact in engineering and so you should follow those that you find most exciting and with high quality and supportive mentors.