Meet 19 leading lights who are using their Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) skills to push the boundaries, and to make the world a better and more exciting place in which to live. From astrophysics to pharmacy, web design to sustainability, these young men and women are all working on ground-breaking projects and cutting edge research.

Their work takes them all over the world; from the dusty deserts of South Africa to the snow-covered French Alps. Their dedication is preventing diseases like cancer. Their expertise is helping the UK to break the world land-speed record. Their vision is protecting our precious energy resources, and their creativity is fi nding new ways for us to communicate with each other. These men and women want to make sure there is a new generation of leading lights to take over the baton and continue their work.

They are part of a network of thousands of people all over the UK who volunteer as STEM Ambassadors, working with young people in schools and colleges to explain what they do and why they love it.

Established in 1996, STEMNET works to foster a positive attitude in young people towards the aformentioned subjects and aims to encourage young people to pursue a career in these subjects in later life. STEMNET recieves funding from both the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills and the Department for Children, Schools and Families.

All of the men and women featured in the portraits volunteer as STEM Ambassadors through a scheme run by STEMNET, visiting young people in schools and colleges to explain what they do and why they love it. To sign up or to find out more, visit These portraits appear in a new touring exhibition Leading Lights which opens on 1 May at the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry.