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Lilly Donnelly

Lilly Donnelly is a chemistry student at Massey University.

Lilly in the lab

What do you do on an average work day? 
No day is average which is what makes it so wonderful. Each day I do try to spend time in the lab, putting on and working up reactions in an attempt to make or modify compounds. I read current literature of which I can never keep up with but it's great seeing what creative science people are doing around the world, and every day I am inspired by something. One of the things I love most is even on a day where nothing has worked and it may feel like you can't quite get there, there is always something new to try tomorrow. 

What did you study at school? And after high school? 
I didn't study science or math at high school, I actually left school quite early. 

Was your study directly related to what you do now? 
Yeah, I did a range of sciences in my first semester of university, Chemistry is what I fell in love with and stuck with. However I'm still learning and studying and if I am lucky I always will be. 

What would you like to share with young women who are thinking about their career choices right now? 
I think you have to do something you enjoy and do it for yourself. University can be tough at times and also competitive but you don't have to be the A student to do well. If you are willing to put in the work, which you will be when it's something you love, you will be great. I think the biggest piece of advice I could give is to take every opportunity, and if it doesn't look like there are any, don't be afraid to ask for one. There are many people and lectures that are willing to invest time in you if you ask for it. 

What are some of your career highlights so far? 
I am very new to my career, but already I have had the privilege of doing research under an amazing supervisor  synthesising and screening new phosphine catalysts. I think I have grown more as a chemist and as a person in the short time I've been doing this than in most of my life it's tough but very rewarding. One highlight for me was making my first new, or at least unpublished compound. There was something so exciting about that. 

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?
New Zealand is already such an innovative country. Combining this culture of ingenuity with a deeper engagement in STEM will contribute greatly to solving the challenges our world is facing. 

Why is it important to have more women working in STEM?
I think it is important to have the most variety of people working in STEM. Having more woman from different backgrounds and perspectives helps achieve this. Each person has something unique to offer and collaborating with this talent pool so to speak, is how we will keep moving forward. 

Lilly Donnelly is a chemistry student at Massey University.

This profile is part of our series of girls and women in STEM. 
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