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PhD students Mimi den Uijl and Noor Abdulhussain of the Van 't Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences together with junior lecturer Lotte Schreuders of the College of Sciences have set up the Instagram account SistersinScience_NL. Their aim is "to provide a peek into the life of a PhD student or junior lecturer at the UvA, and, more importantly, to overcome stereotypes and inspire others".

The three sisters in science sitting on stairs
Left to right: Junior lecturer Lotte Schreuders and PhD students Mimi den Uijl and Noor Abdulhussain. (Photo montage by Lotte, Mimi and Noor, respecting corona restrictions).

The idea for the Instagram account came up in a discussion between Mimi, Lotte, and Noor, who became friends during their studies in chemistry at the UvA. They discussed the general image of a scientist in a lab, which usually boils down to a white man of age with crazy Einstein-like hair. "Among the three of us we noticed that when we were younger, we never knew what a being a scientist actually meant", says Mimi. "Let alone that he or she would look anything like us."

A desire grew to show younger generations, and in fact anyone not familiar with the academic world, that being a scientist (and in particular a chemist) can be a regular career path to anyone. As a result, the trio jointly launched their Instagram account.

Mimi: "With Sisters in Science we hope to reach anyone interested in what the ‘science world' is all about, to inspire young people to pursue a career in science and to connect with our fellow scientists on the platform." This all nicely lines up with the goal of the United Nations International Day of Women and Girls in Science, to be held next Thursday, 11 February. Making chemists more visible in everyday life is one of their goals, says Mimi: "You hardly find them on social media, you don’t see them on the news or in movies or shows. In fact, the absence of such role models made us doubt our own career paths. And at times it still does."

Recent 'Sisters in Science' Instagram post.

Noor Abdulhussain obtained her master's degree in Chemistry from the UvA in 2017. She then started working as a PhD student in the STAMP project aimed at obtaining a peak capacity of one million in liquid-phase analytical separations. Last year she gained media attention with her efforts in 3D-printing for separation science.

Mimi den Uijl obtained her master's degree in Chemistry from the UvA in 2018 and has since been a PhD student at the TooCOLD project. Investigating the chemistry of light-induced degradation, the project will provide new insights to protect works of art, to improve water purification systems and to ensure the quality and safety of food. Last year she competed for the Spotlight prize of the Royal Netherlands Chemical Society with a 1 minute video pitch of her research.

Lotte Schreuders obtained her master's degree in Chemistry from the UvA in 2020 and subsequently was appointed junior lecturer at the UvA's Faculty of Science. She is affiliated with the track Analytical Chemistry of the combined UvA/VU Chemistry master’s degree programme, where she was hired for the renewal of the education program and methods. She strives for high quality teaching and equal opportunities for all students.