Heidi Baker is a Senior Forensic Scientist working for Environmental Science and Research Ltd.
Where do you work?
I'm currently a DNA specialist based at the Mt Albert Science Centre in Auckland, but I also spent a year in the crime scene forensic group at our Christchurch laboratory.
What do you do on an average work day?
An average day could be flying to court anywhere in the country to provide evidence as an expert witness, or carrying out DNA analysis, interpretation and research at the laboratory. No two days are ever the same and I never stop learning.
What did you study at school? And after high school?
I was fortunate to have a broad study base at school: science, languages, mathematics, English language, literature, art and history. I focused on science and mathematics for my last two school years and pursued my passion of genetics at university.
Was your study directly related to what you do now?
I use genetics and mathematics, especially statistics, on a daily basis at work. A large part of my role is explaining complex science to a non scientific audience, so being comfortable with public speaking and engaging people are also important skills.
What would you like to share with young women who are thinking about their career choices right now?
Aim high and believe in yourself! Choose something you're passionate about, take opportunities that come your way, step out of your comfort zone and don't be afraid to change your mind.
What are some of your career highlights so far?
I have been fortunate to work for two world leading forensic laboratories (I started my forensic career at the London laboratory of the Forensic Science Service - FSS). I was incredibly humbled and proud to receive two commendations from the Metropolitan Police in the UK and a citation for my work in the aftermath of the Canterbury Earthquake. Representing ESR at conferences in the U.S and Europe have been fantastic opportunities, but by far my happiest work moments are mentoring colleagues and seeing them achieve their goals.
Why do you believe engaging in STEM – whether it’s working in the field, studying it or just educating one’s self around the issues – is important to New Zealand?
Science is so fundamental to the world we live in and the world we want our children to grow up in. Future generations are relying on the scientific research and decisions we make now, and that's something everyone can be part of.
Why is it important to have more women working in STEM?
STEM careers are diverse and so are the people working in the field. I think it's vital that those working in STEM roles represent the people and communities impacted by their work. Anyone with a curious mind and a passion for positive change is most welcome and your curiosity can take you around the world, and maybe beyond in the future!
Heidi Baker is a Senior Forensic Scientist working for Environmental Science and Research Ltd (commonly known as ESR).
This profile is part of our series of girls and women in STEM.
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