Nomenclature

‘The scientist and the artist were once one -/how else could you record/what you saw? How else, find a way of seeing?’ – Rebecca Morgan Frank

It started with a Google search. The shameless kind. When you’re curious about your online existence, and there she was. Rebecca Goss. Scientist. By all accounts brilliant, and successful and quite rightly beating me to the top of any Goss listing.

An email arrived, a few years later. It’s an odd thing to see an email in your inbox, sent from yourself. Dr Rebecca Goss (scientist), Professor in Organic/Biomolecular Chemistry at the University of St Andrews, was getting in touch to say she too knew of our shared Google search and wondered if I would consider a collaboration of some sort. We arranged to meet online and quickly discovered we are of similar age, both mothers of daughters, both of us with connections to East Anglia. From that conversation we knew we would like to do ‘something’ combining science and poetry. 

Today, on International Day of Women and Girls in Science 2022, I can share that Rebecca and I are now embarking on our project ‘NoMenClature’ – a collaborative project between poet and scientist resulting in the exploration of the culture of women in science. The aim is to highlight and celebrate chemists who are also mothers and to use poetry to disarm and address pervasive misperceptions about women in chemistry. Longer term, we hope to expand the project to include women working in other STEM disciplines. We are thrilled to have been awarded seed funding from the Wellcome Trust (Institutional Strategic Support Fund) and the Royal Society of Chemistry Inclusion and Diversity Fund. My poems will be profiling the lives of important women from the UK and abroad, exploring the paths their lives have taken and what it means to be a scientist, and to be a mother.

Dr Rebecca Goss’s research has been recognised through a series of national and international awards, and she has given over 120 invited research lectures globally. Discover more about all that she has achieved, and is achieving, here: https://risweb.st-andrews.ac.uk/portal/en/persons/rebecca-goss(67793718-7888-4ff5-9d92-5e4f0b6d3d41).html

After first speaking with Rebecca, I wrote ‘Nomenclature’, a poem that can be found in my most recent Carcanet collection Girl, first published in The White Review. It’s about the sharing of our name, a fact I mention casually these days, but I do think it brings something unique to what Rebecca and I do together now and in the future. Here’s the poem, and here’s to more…

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