As part of Science Odyssey, we are interviewing a variety of STEM innovators to investigate pathways into STEM and to discuss the future of STEM learning and careers.
Roxana Ralea has worked at TRIUMF, Canada's particle accelerator centre, since 2007. Research initiatives at TRIUMF include particle physics, nuclear physics, nuclear medicine and materials science. Initially hired as an Accelerator Operator, Roxana worked in this position for two years before transitioning to become the Health Physics Lab Manager within the Radiation Protection Group. Roxana’s duties include monitoring site radiological safety and quantitatively assessing the impact of TRIUMF operation on the environment. Roxana also manages the inventory and flow of radioactive materials on site, the organization and coordination of shipments of radioactive materials, and policy surrounding the handling, storage and disposal of radioactive waste.
Roxana obtained her Bachelor of Science in Physics (1996), followed by a Master of Science in Atmospheric Physics and Environmental Protection (1997) from the University of Bucharest, Faculty of Physics, Romania. Roxana has been volunteering for Scientist and Innovators in School program for four years. She enjoys talking about science and engaging the public in scientific education. Roxana most enjoys conducting experiments with children to stimulate their curiosity by asking them questions and letting them take charge. Roxana’s favourite part of being a scientist is continually learning more about physics and its applications in our day to day life, especially in the field of Nuclear Medicine. Roxana enjoys her job at TRIUMF and feels lucky to work alongside so many enthusiastic people who are so dedicated that they can talk about their work at length and even come to work in the middle of the night to fix systems ensuring that the laboratory maintains operational efficiency.
What sparked your interest and eventual career in science?
I started high school with poor grades in physics so my mom decided to find a tutor for me. One of her friends was a physics teacher so she agreed to teach me some physics; that teacher was a pure inspiration for me. She made me love physics and sparked my curiosity about how things work and what is the theory behind them.
What role does mentorship play in engaging youth in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math)?
Mentors can inspire the young generation by sharing their own curiosity and leading by example. I think it is important to deliver the message that every carrier path has ups and downs and that failure is part of being successful.
Did you have a mentor who supported you in your work and own learning journey?
I have met many inspiring people during my work and learning journey, people from which I learned not only science but also skills that helped me to be successful in my carrier. I believe that mentoring is a partnership between the mentor and the mentee and it works only if both parts are involved.
What did you want to be when you were in elementary school? Did you plan your current career path?
I don’t remember what I wanted to be when I was in elementary school but I do remember that when I finished high school I wanted to be a science teacher. I studied physics for six years, and then few things happened in my life; I lost my parents and a dear grandma in one and a half year, then I came to Canada and I started a new life. I did not persuade a teacher career but I did manage to get to work in a science field, with lots of physics, particle physics, nuclear physics, nuclear medicine or materials science. In addition, I have been volunteering for Scientist and Innovators in School program for four years, getting the opportunity to achieve some teaching experience. I would say that my current carrier path is a combination of luck, hard work and positive attitude J .
What is Scientists and Innovators in Schools program’s role in promoting and supporting STEM learning and careers in BC?
I feel privileged to be part of the Scientist and Innovators in School program as I think it is extremely important to share science knowledge and exciting experiments with young generation.
What is TRIUMF? TRIUMF is Canada’s particle accelerator centre. From the hunt for the smallest particles in the universe to the development of new technologies, including next-generation batteries and medical isotopes, TRIUMF is pushing the frontiers in research to advance science, medicine, and business.
Join us for The Science Behind Pixar opening day! Take a peek into the Pixar process, and explore the science and technology behind some of your most beloved animated films and their characters with The Science Behind Pixar, presented locally by White Spot restaurants. Or investigate more at home or school with the Scratch Programming Series: Design Your Own Game or Animation from Science World Resources.