#InspiredByCAGIS: Meet Brianne Davis

1) Tell us a bit about yourself and your journey as a woman in STEM – when did it start? where are you now?
 
I knew that I wanted to be a veterinarian before I understood or developed my interest in the sciences.  Through STEM-based activities with CAGIS,  Girl Guides, and my local public library programming, I developed an appreciation for how STEM concepts show up everywhere in our day-to-day life. When I reached high school, I started seeking out STEM based activities such as March Break and Summer camp programs to further my knowledge and interests outside of the school setting. My parents were very supportive of my interests and were active finding and facilitating uncommon youth activities for me to explore.
 
My undergraduate degree is in biochemistry from Western University.  After my biochemistry degree, I attended the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph.  During my 8 years in university, I had the opportunity to work in various laboratory settings and participate in research projects that led me to have a much stronger understanding of the scientific process.  Since graduating, I’ve been working at a veterinary clinic that treats dogs and cats.  On a day-to-day basis, I examine animals, analyse bloodwork and x-ray results, and create treatment plans as well as perform surgery. All of my everyday tasks have a foundation in STEM, and I am using STEM concepts both subconsciously and consciously throughout my day. 
2) Why did you become a veterinarian? What was it about that field of study that interested you the most?
 
When I was younger, I knew that I wanted to work with animals. I was drawn to learning quirky facts about different species, and realized that it was important to me that I could use my knowledge to help them.  I’ve always loved problem solving, logic games, and puzzles, and medical problems can be viewed as big puzzles to solve.  Being a veterinarian allows me to bridge both these interests.  Luckily, I knew that this is what I wanted to do from a young age, and was able to work towards this goal.  My parents helped me see the importance of having a strong background in STEM for my career goal and helped keep me on track to achieve my dreams.
 
 2) Why did you become a veterinarian? What was it about that field of study that interested you the most?
 
When I was younger, I knew that I wanted to work with animals. I was drawn to learning quirky facts about different species, and realized that it was important to me that I could use my knowledge to help them.  I’ve always loved problem solving, logic games, and puzzles, and medical problems can be viewed as big puzzles to solve.  Being a veterinarian allows me to bridge both these interests.  Luckily, I knew that this is what I wanted to do from a young age, and was able to work towards this goal.  My parents helped me see the importance of having a strong background in STEM for my career goal and helped keep me on track to achieve my dreams.
3) Can you describe your CAGIS experience and the impact being a CAGIS member had on you?
 
I was fortunate to have CAGIS available to me from a young age; it was a big part of my introduction to STEM.  I didn’t always enjoy science and math classes in school due to the mostly lecture-based format of class.  I much preferred hands-on activities over rote memorization.  CAGIS allowed me to learn about many of the same topics, but in a more fun and interactive manner. I eventually realized that lecture-based learning was a means to an end, but that my dislike of that format was not truly a dislike of the subject material! 
 
4) Was there a CAGIS experience/event that was most memorable?
 
I have so many great memories from CAGIS.  My favourite activities included visits to the Ontario Science Centre as well as the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum, and also having the opportunity to meet Dr. Roberta Bondar who is one of my STEM idols.
5) Who are your STEM role models?
 
I admire anyone who is dedicated to their passion in STEM.  I am grateful to those who have furthered their respective fields, and who have been willing to put themselves out there as the public faces of their professions and beliefs. Growing up, Dr. Roberta Bondar, Dr. Jane Goodall, and Dr. James Herriot were some of my biggest idols. Now, I admire the next generations of my peers and the youth who may not yet be household names, but are passionate about making a lasting impact for the future.
 

6) If you were giving one piece advice to a young girl interested in exploring STEM, what would it be?

Use your youth to explore a wide-range of interests and opportunities outside of the structured format of your school classroom and be willing to step out of your comfort zone.  You never know how some seemingly unrelated interests may align themselves into a niche opportunity in the future.  Your dream career may not exist yet, or you may pave your own path to create your own field of expertise.  Even if you do land in a more “traditional” career like I have, you will be all the richer for the wide variety of experiences you have had.