To celebrate this year’s Space Week, which celebrates Women in Space, Plymouth Science Park is shining a light on “women who are out of this world”, by talking to inspirational women working in the sector across the South West.
In the third interview of the series, Fay Davies, Business Development Manager at Plymouth Science Park sat down with Dr Samantha Lavender, Managing Director at Pixalytics. Here’s what she had to say:
Can you tell us a bit about who you are and your role?
I’m Samantha Lavender, and I run Pixalytics, a consultancy company specialising in Earth observation. We work with satellite observation data to understand what’s happening in the world. The way most people understand what we’re doing is by thinking about Google Earth satellite imagery. We’ve been based at Plymouth Science Park since Pixalytics was first established in 2012.
How did you get into this line of work?
I studied a degree in marine science and marine computer applications at Plymouth University. In my final year we did remote sensing with a guest lecturer. It was fascinating, and I was instantly hooked. A PhD opportunity came up at the university, and so I stayed in Plymouth to study remote sensing further. I previously worked at the Plymouth Marine Laboratory, Plymouth University, and ARGANS, before launching Pixalytics.
What impact is your work at Pixalytics having?
Our aim is to get people to understand what these satellites in space can do, and how they can help their own work. Satellite data can assist in a huge variety of projects, so we get a diverse mix of companies working with us.
From investigating the deep ocean floor, to analysing sustainable sand in Kenya, to looking at agriculture in Colombia – it’s applicable to a huge variety of sectors, which makes the work a lot of fun.
How can we encourage more women to work in space?
Space is a space for women. The Landsat 9 satellite launched recently, a series of satellites originally developed by a woman in 1972. The Ladies of Landsat group is a fantastic example of women in the sector working together and supporting each other. Making sure we shine the spotlight on women working in space is key to encouraging more to join the sector.
What words of advice would you give to women interested in working in the space sector?
Recognise that you get all sorts of jobs in the space sector. It’s similar to other industries – there are a variety of roles and skills needed, and you get the bonus of being able to work in this exciting sector as well! A lot of people don’t realise just how much is going on behind the scenes. Whether you studied computing, geography, maths, or want to move across from a different industry – there are plenty of different skills in demand.
And if you are contemplating it, go for it! It’s such an exciting sector to be part of, you never go back. In fact, it becomes a bit of an obsession!
Head over to our YouTube to watch our video interview with Sam: https://youtu.be/MUo8etxI-Os