Mentoring young girls in science is a natural fit for PhD student Emily Choy
Don’t be afraid to put up a good fight” are Emily Choy’s words of encouragement to females wishing to pursue a career in science. While the PhD candidate at the University of Manitoba’s Freshwater Institute admits that interest in science is definitely alive, she feels women too often let go of desirable fieldwork opportunities because they’re taught to be agreeable. She adds: “I’m not afraid to be stubborn and really go for what I want.”
It’s no ordinary office job for Choy. Her research on the Beaufort Sea beluga whale and how it adapts to climate change brings her face to face with adventure, such as joining an Inuit hunting camp on Kendall Island, Northwest Territories. “The beluga is a traditional food for the Inuit. So we follow their hunt and take our samples from their prey.” In summer, Choy lives in community cabins where she has learned tasks such as preparing and eating beluga and the art of Inuvialuit beading. In the arctic, where there’s 24 hours of summer daylight, she’s even played baseball at 3 a.m.
Choy is also blazing a trail. As a recently-awarded laureate in the 2012 L’OréalCanada For Women in Science program with the support of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, Choy received a $5,000 prize. As part of the exchange, Choy will mentor girls between the ages of six and 17 in L’Oréal’s Canada’s National Girls Mentoring Program launched in partnership with Actua, where she will share her experiences and love for science during summer camps, workshops and other activities. The mentoring program was created especially for remarkable women scientists, just like Emily, to be able to inspire young girls and encourage them to pursue scientific studies, says Delphine Senicourt, Scientific and Regulatory Affairs, L’Oréal Canada and a member of the 2012 selection committee for the mentoring fellowships.