Fitzbillies in Cambridge is bustling and Keren arrives for our meeting clutching a steaming coffee.
What you see isn’t what you expect when you meet her. Her Ph.D. in Biochemistry conjures up a sterile lab environment and a white coat. Instead her passion for science and how it can empower people of every gender, age, culture and profession is contagious. Her degrees and studies have taken her from France to Canada, Israel and the UK. My “why did you choose a career in science?” reveals an “aha” moment at the summit of a South American mountain. After an exhausting trek, Keren discovered a tiny, fragile flower growing in a barren wasteland. In that instant she was intrigued to learn more about life and her quest to use science to explore the unknown was born.
Keren’s Bio – Well travelled and multi-lingual speaking 5 languages; achieved her first degree in Biology in France, was an exchange student in Canada, her MSc and PhD. in Biochemistry were completed in Israel; organiser of a journal club to encourage students from physics, chemistry and biology to collaborate and share experiences; organiser of the Open Research Cambridge monthly event which promotes sharing and collaboration among academics as well as between academics and society; Mother of 2 young children; founder of the Scientific Literacy Tool which promotes literacy and communication in every area of science.
Why I agree with Don Wiid’s nomination of Keren as a #leadinglight:
- Founder of the Scientific Literacy Tool, (launched October 2014) a web-based platform to help people discover, understand, and explore scientific texts as well as scientific notions and terminologies within popular texts. It caters for scientists as well as non-scientists like me to research something I’m interested in and decode the jargon to help me understand the meaning behind it. It is a tool that leads you to the information you need.
- A pioneer with a strong belief that the scientific community needs to be more inclusive and broader than it currently is. Keren’s long-term goal is to gradually promote the formation of web-based communities and encourage collaborations between people with different backgrounds, skills, and perspectives in order to introduce new approaches to existing challenges. In this way scientific problems will no longer be inaccessible to the wider public but rather a responsibility we might all want to share.
- She provocatively named her product a “Literacy” tool. Keren believes being illiterate is not stupidity – none of us can be an expert and have the vocabulary for everything. She recognises that every individual has their own reality and perspective and wants to decide for themselves. This diversity empowers us to discover and solve life’s unanswered questions.
People and events that have influenced Keren: she has so many interests and is a lover of history – she has just finished reading a biography on Catherine the Great. Keren attends conferences and events that promote collaborative learning such as Wikimania “imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge #wikimania2014” and UCL’s citizen science events.
Keren’s nominations for career attributes: Be honest with yourself and appreciate who you are; Promote what you have – don’t be embarrassed by what you haven’t got; Be humble and courageous.