Case Study: Emma Meehan

Emma is  Senior Science Technician for Boulby Underground Screening facility (BUGS) which is part of the  Boulby’s Underground Laboratory.

Not every journey into STEM is the same

Emma didn’t follow the typical pathway into a STEM career because she didn’t take an apprenticeship or go to university. Instead, she found her job through her curiosity and desire to learn. Emma joined Boulby laboratory as a part-time cleaner where she met the scientists and started asking lots of questions.

Initially, she didn’t know a lot of science but she had an interest in physiology and biometrics. From asking lots of questions she developed a passion for Physics and even asked to help work on the equipment.

“I started to learn all about Dark Matter and physics and fell in love with it …I became very good at looking after different types of detectors and experiments. So much so that I ended up getting a full-time position and promotion to senior science technician.”

A Laboratory in a mine

Emma works in an unusual environment: a working mine over a kilometre deep underground! She works with astronauts, scientists, engineers, technicians and people who love science from all over the world including NASA and ESA.

Emma is observant because she prepares and checks samples which are used to detect rare particle events. She needs to be tenacious as the samples take time and sometimes don’t work.  Emma also works on projects looking for life on alien planets, designing and testing space technology like Mars Rovers and special tools and cameras that go on them.

“My job is absolutely amazing. I get to do so many things that I love, and I learn new things every day … I love working underground, it can be hot, dirty and hard work but it really is a brilliant and exciting place to be.”

During her time at the lab she has fallen in love with Physics, Astrophysics, Geology and more.

Guided tours and awards

Before working at Boulby, Emma used to be a horse-riding instructor. She has always loved teaching people and learning about the way animals think and act. Having this curiosity and passion to share her expertise makes her extremely successful at her job.

“The main thing I brought from that to my job at Boulby is my insatiably curiosity and desire to learn”

Emma imaginative as she creates and gives science tours of the mine where she works to visitors. Her hard work is noticed by others and in 2019 she was awarded a Technician Award from the Institute of Physics!

Family, Animals and Adventure

Emma loves animals and has three horses, four dogs, ferrets, hens, ducks, turkeys and sheep! She enjoys being around animals and wonders about how we can communicate with them based on their ways of thinking. She also enjoys days out with her family!