March 7, 2023
Shellie Wall: RIPE Women's History Month Feature Story
Shellie Wall’s path to RIPE looked different than most.
“At the age of 29, I made the decision to return to academia and reignite my passion for science.” Despite having worked and travelled extensively throughout Europe, Shellie felt that she wanted a more meaningful and fulfilling career.
Shortly after enrolling at the University of Essex, she became interested in plant sciences. While studying, she was inspired by women who had broken ground in their chosen STEM fields. Shellie described reading about Mary Anning, an English paleontologist and fossil collector, not being able to join the Geological Society of London and not always receiving credit for her scientific work, which particularly resonated with her. She remarked, “I often think of this while I prepare to contribute to work that will advance science. I think of her and many others like her and the progress women have made.”
Shellie is grateful to her Ph.D. supervisor, Professor Tracy Lawson, who has inspired and continues to encourage her interest in plant science. Lawson supported Shellie at the University of Essex and is now one of the many female colleagues on the RIPE project, with Professor Christine Raines and Dr. Amanda Cavanagh, who serve as great role models. Shellie deeply values this support system and seeks to encourage young women who may find the stigmas surrounding STEM fields intimidating. She aims to help them overcome their fears and biases, motivating them to pursue their interests, and demonstrating that at any point in life, one can aspire to progress, achieve their goals, and excel.
When Shellie joined the RIPE project as a postdoctoral researcher in January 2022, she was pleased to discover that the project “embodies principles of equity and fairness. My colleagues and I share a common view of being fair, impartial, and unbiased. This provides everyone with the chance to reach their potential and have positive work experiences with equitable opportunities for advancement.”
Shellie’s measurable goals around equity and inclusion and her advice to those supporting women in STEM can be described as having a snowball effect. She believes that “being a hardworking, focused, and approachable colleague who is free from bias and discrimination can help to stimulate an inclusive work environment.” Shellie appreciates that the RIPE team values everyone's expertise and fosters collaboration across different parts of the project.
Shellie shared, “I am proud of how far I have come, and I am excited to see how much more RIPE will achieve.”
Shellie Wall, a senior research officer, joined the RIPE project as a postdoctoral researcher in January 2022 at the University of Essex! Her role in the project is using CRISPR technology and golden gate cloning to create transgenic lines of tobacco with differing stomatal dynamic responses to boost photosynthesis. Shellie’s bachelor’s in biological sciences and doctorate in plant biology, alongside her current postdoctoral research in molecular plant biology and physiology, paired with her ability to share her work on social media in a consumable way, make her an influential member of the RIPE team.
► Email: Sawalla@essex.ac.uk
► Twitter: @shellie_wall
During Women’s History Month, RIPE will be celebrating a number of our women researchers, their accomplishments, and their advice to other women in STEM.
This feature was written and developed by Emily Campos, RIPE Science Communications Intern.