Maggie Aderin-Pocock was born in London to Nigerian parents. She attended La Sainte Union Convent School in North London. She has dyslexia and, as a child, when she told a teacher she wanted to be an astronaut, it was suggested she try nursing, “as that was science too”. However she gained four A Levels in maths, physics, chemistry and biology.
She went on to study at Imperial College London, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Physics and a Doctorate in Mechanical Engineering.
Dr. Aderin-Pocock has worked on many projects, from private industry to government contracts to academic research. She began in the Ministry of Defence and the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency on missile warning systems. She then worked on hand-held instruments to detect landmines. Maggie moved back to Imperial College London in 1999 with a Fellowship from the Science and Technology Facilities Council to work on a high-resolution spectrograph for the Gemini telescope in Chile, which probes the heart of stars by converting the starlight gathered by huge telescopes into the component rainbow colours, and then analyses them to work out what’s happening billions of miles away.
She is the lead scientist for the optical instrumentation group for Astrium. She is working on and managing the observation instruments for the Aeolus satellite, which will measure wind speeds to help the investigation of climate change. Maggie is also helping to coordinate the development of the Mid-Infrared Instrument for the James Webb Space Telescope, the planned replacement for the Hubble, and on other infrared mechanisms for monitoring climate change and on other optical systems and bespoke instrumentation for future space missions.
She is also a pioneering figure in communicating science to the public, specifically school children, and runs her own company, Science Innovation Ltd, which engages children and adults all over the world with the wonders of space science. Maggie is committed to inspiring new generations of astronauts, engineers and scientists and she has spoken to about 25,000 children, many of them at inner-city schools telling them how and why she is a scientist, busting myths about careers, class and gender. Through this Maggie conducts “Tours of the Universe”, a scheme she set up to engage school children and adults around the world in the wonders of space.
Dr. Aderin-Pocock was the scientific consultant for the 2009 mini-series Paradox, and also appeared on Doctor Who Confidential. In February 2011 she presented ‘Do We Really Need the Moon?’ on BBC 2. She also presented In Orbit: How Satellites Rule Our World on BBC 2 on 25 March 2012.
She holds a Science in Society Fellowship awarded in 2006 by the Science and Technology Facilities Council, as well as Honorary Doctorate from Staffordshire University for her contributions to the field of science education. In 2006 she was one of six ‘Women of Outstanding Achievement‘ winners with GetSET Women and in 2009 she was awarded a Member of the British Empire for her services to science and education.