Smashing Stereotypes: Jess Gallacher

Shining a light for science's late bloomers


Jess Gallacher
Engagement and Communications Manager

Jess Gallacher is a manager at the Institution of Lighting Professionals and the founder of ‘How To Be Brilliant’. She was top of the class at school and college, then instead of Uni or an apprenticeship, accidentally took a rubbish low paid job and worked her way through life to this point. Along the way, she has been a shopkeeper, volunteer police officer and worked in a cake factory. She used to volunteer for her local Red Box Project which happily is closing down since meeting it’s aims.

I didn’t have my a-ha moment with science until I was embarrassingly old. My granddad was a brilliant scientist and an absolute legend in his field, but it wasn’t until I was an adult I really saw for myself that working in science isn’t only professors, labs and experiments.

The work I do involves lighting the world in a way which is better for people and the planet. I get together all the different people involved in making lights, designing what they should be like and where they should go, fitting them, and looking after them. Good lighting is linked to so many things including how well you concentrate at school, how you feel at home, being safe out and about, even how quickly you recover if you are in a hospital.

Light really affects everyone. It can help you mentally and physically, and I love seeing great environmentally friendly lighting, knowing it will change people’s lives. Some of it is really breath-taking stuff that makes your jaw drop and cheers your soul. I didn’t intend to get into science but the work I do now includes physics, biology, chemistry, psychology and a lot more.

I know the campaign is about smashing stereotypes, but I’m hoping the old ways of perceiving things are fading away. All I would say is STEM is for everyone from every background, and everyone is equally important. All are welcome!

For those who are thinking of taking a career in science, I’m very sorry people older than you didn’t take better care of our planet. Now there are so many problems in the world which need solving with care and STEM.

We need you, so please think about it as a career, keep your options open, be curious, be kind, and do what you enjoy.

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The information featured in this profile was last updated in March 2020.

The Smashing Stereotypes campaign is supported by 3M.