Sparking Science Interview: Tanya Stemberger
To celebrate the upcoming 2018 Sparking Science through Mentorship Conference, EcoSpark is featuring two STEM mentors from last year’s conference. Sparking Science is an annual event that showcases women working in STEM who will mentor grade 9 girls from Durham Region. This year’s event will be held on October 10, 2018 at the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus. For more information and details, click here.
Introducing: Tanya Stemberger!
Tanya is currently a Data Scientist at Achievers where she uses data analysis, big data mining and predictive modeling to support new products or business needs. She describes herself as a scientist, communicator, and data advocate with a passion for adventure, art, and social improvement. Her past research has included refereeing fruit fly and spider fights, snorkeling at dawn in the Caribbean to watch reef fish flee waves, biking through ravines to find knee-high trees that were older than her, and climbing trees in California to pick insect-infested fruit.
What made you want to go into STEM?
I guess I was always a very curious kid. But I was also an athlete and did a lot of martial arts, and a lot of theatre and arts on top of science. I always had multifaceted interests, and one point I had a brief yet intense interest in international studies at one point.
I was really into science, and when I was much younger I was also really into math. I guess one defining moment when I was a kid was I had just moved to a new elementary school, and as a preteen I guess I thought that I had to be cool. One day, while in the car with my dad, I must’ve said to him that cool kids aren’t smart. He pulled the car over in full traffic to scold me about this. He told me that was unacceptable and not true at all, and it kind of stuck with me.
You don’t really realize it when you’re a kid, but once you get older and you start meeting people who are interested in the same things you are, and you aren’t in a space with colleagues that are there because of proximity opposed to interest, then you start realizing that the things that you’ve always been excited about actually are really cool.
What advice would you give to anyone interested in STEM and Sparking Science 2018?
There are no stupid questions. I feel like in many ways I built a career out of not worrying about questions being stupid, and often they turn out to be quite smart. And if you’re wondering about something, there are probably a lot of other people who are wondering about the same thing, and if they’re not, maybe they should be.
I’d also like to add that mentorship comes from every direction at all times, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be that you have a formal mentor. You can be a mentor for somebody that has mentored you, and it’s kind of a give and take relationship. And sometimes, you’re really lucky and you find that one person who gives you a ton of excellent advice, but most of the time, you give and you get. You get it and you give it everywhere you go.
Brandon contributed this blog as a Communications Assistant Intern at EcoSpark. He is passionate about environmental education and youth engagement in policy issues. During the school year, he attends the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania where he is completing his Bachelor of Science degree in Economics, with intended concentrations in Marketing and Environmental Policy & Management.