NL Crush of the Week: Maggie Aderin Pocock

Aderin-Pocock, born in London, to Nigerian parents, attended La Sainte Union Convent School in North London. She has dyslexia and, as a child, when she expressed an interest in being an astronaut, her teachers suggested she try nursing, “because that’s scientific, too”. Having completed her secondary education, she went on to attaining four A-Levels in maths, physics, chemistry and biology.

For further education, Aderin-Pocock, attended Imperial College London, earning a BSc in physics in 1990 and a doctorate in mechanical engineering in 1994. Her thesis was accepted in 1995, entitled “Interferometric Studies of Very Thin Lubricant Films in Concentrated Contacts”.

She discussed her biography on BBC’s Desert Island Discs in March 2010, and this became the subject of various biographical articles on women in science.

Aderin-Pocock has worked on a variety of projects, ranging from private industry to government contracts to academic research. Having started in the Ministry of Defence and the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency on missile warning systems, Aderin-Pocock went on to working with hand-held instruments to detect land mines.

In 1999, Aderin-Pocock moved back to Imperial College London with a fellowship from the Science and Technology Facilities Council.

She was the lead scientist for the optical instrumentation group for Astrium – an aerospace subsidiary of the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS) that provided civil and military space systems and services from 2006 to 2013..

She is working on and managing the observation instruments for the Aeolus satellite – an ESA satellite that is due for launch in 2015, which will measure wind speeds to help the investigation of climate change.

Aderin-Pocock is also a pioneering figure in communicating science to the public, specifically school children, and also runs her own company, Science Innovation Ltd, which engages children and adults all over the world with the wonders of space science.

Committed to inspiring new generations of astronauts, engineers and scientists, Aderin-Pocock has spoken to about 25,000 children, many of them at inner-city schools telling them how and why she is a scientist, busting myths about careers, class and gender.

Aderin-Pocock conducts “Tours of the Universe”, a scheme she set up to engage school children and adults around the world in the wonders of space.

Aderin-Pocock was the scientific consultant for the 2009 mini-series Paradox, and also appeared on Doctor Who Confidential. In February 2011 she presented Do We Really Need the Moon? on BBC Two. She also presented In Orbit: How Satellites Rule Our World on BBC Two on 26 March 2012.

Since 2006, Aderin-Pocock has served as a research fellow at UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies, supported by a Science in Society fellowship 2010-2013 funded by Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC). She previously held two other fellowships related to science communication.

In 2006, she was one of six ‘Women of Outstanding Achievement’ winners with GetSET Women.

In 2009, she was appointed an MBE for her services to science and education. In 2009, Aderin-Pocock was awarded an honorary doctorate from Staffordshire University for contributions to the field of science education.

She now lives in Guildford, Surrey, with her husband Martin and three-year-old daughter Lauren.

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