Tag Archives: Ada Lovelace Day

Ada Lovelace Day: Jen Phillips

For more information about Ada Lovelace Day, see findingada.com. For a brief (but not entirely accurate) comic biography of Ada Lovelace, see Ada Lovelace: The Origin.

JenI asked my wife, Jen Phillips, if she’d be willing to be my subject for Ada Lovelace Day this year. Jen got a degree in Ecology from Durham University in 2000, and currently works as a technical author. She tweets as JetlagJAP and has a blog called Void and Actuality.

Russell Phillips: Let’s start at the beginning. What sort of STEM things did you do at GCSE and A-level?
Jen Phillips: At GCSE, I didn’t really have any choice. Everything was required, so I did the standard dual-award science and standard maths. Options were limited. Everyone did the same. At A-level, I did Biology, Chemistry and Maths. I did an AS in Further Maths as well.

RP: So, then you went to university. I know you have a degree in Ecology, but I’m hazy on exactly what that means.
JP: It’s the study of organisms and how they interact with their environment. Environment being defined as the physical and biological parts of everything it interacts with. So, everything from the kind of ground it walks on, to the prey it eats, to the cycle of seasons.
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Ada Lovelace Day: Valentina Tereshkova, first woman in space

For more information about Ada Lovelace Day, see findingada.com. For a brief (but not entirely accurate) comic biography of Ada Lovelace, see Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage.

1963 USSR postage stamp depicting Valentina Tereshkova
Valentina Tereshkova on a 1963 stamp
A while ago, I mentioned that I needed to decide who I was going to write about for Ada Lovelace Day, and a friend suggested Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space.

Tereshkova was indeed the first woman in space, and that’s one hell of an achievement for anyone, but particularly for the daughter of a tractor driver who left school at 16. After several months of extensive training, she was launched into space aboard Vostok 6 on 16th June 1963. Despite suffering nausea from poor quality food and significant discomfort, she stayed in orbit for 70.8 hours, making 48 orbits of Earth. In that one single flight, she spent more time in space than all the American astronauts combined at that point.

When Tereshkova left school to start work at the age of 16, she continued her education via correspondence courses. She graduated with distinction from Zhukovskiy Military Air Academy in 1969, and earned a doctorate in engineering in 1977. During her 70th birthday celebrations, she said that she’d like to fly to Mars, even if it was a one-way trip.