Emily Cross, Scientist and TEDx Speaker

FLARE #HowIMadeIt celebrates 100+ talented, ambitious and driven Canadian women with cool jobs. Want what Emily has? Here’s how she did it

Emily Cross smiling in a white lab coat

(Photo: Jarron Childs)

Emily Cross; Thunder Bay, Ont.; 


Let’s say we just met—how would you describe your extra-curricular activities in one minute or less?

A weird mashup of science, music, and sport! I conduct my own scientific research for science fair projects that are usually related to the geosciences, I take flute lessons and I’m on several curling teams.

Can you describe a typical day for us, detailing everything you do from when you first get up to when you head back to bed?

I usually work on my science research from September to May. My research usually focuses on geochemistry, and I focus on entering my research in science fairs. (Most recently, I did some research on ironstone—a very hard type of rock that can contain fossils and opals. I discovered chemical treatments that can break down and soften the ironstone, so that fossils and opals can be removed without damage.)

During those months, I get up and watch the morning news show for about half an hour before getting ready for school. I’m at school about half an hour before class usually starts to finish up last-minute homework, or read over notes from the previous day. After school, I get dropped off at the local university to work on my research in the lab or analyze my samples. I get home kind of late, so have to heat up my dinner quickly with my family and then analyze my data from that day’s research, enter it in my science log books, and add some of that new analyzed data to my science reports. Then it’s time for homework!

What do you consider your biggest win in the past year?

Speaking at the XSTEM event, part of the USA Science and Engineering Festival, in Washington D.C., and getting to hear the responses from the students about how much I had inspired them! When I was younger, some older youth scientists inspired and motivated me, and it is important for me to give back!

What’s your #1 goal for the next year?

My main goal for the next year is to continue my research, and get it published.

Do you ever just go home after school and binge on Netflix? If you do, what’s your current Netflix obsession—and why do you love it? (Here at FLARE HQ, we’re equally obsessed with Riverdale and 13 Reasons Why.)

Yes! My current Netflix obsession is Riverdale. The suspense and mystery, combined with the drama, is really entertaining.

Have you ever been bullied at school? If so, how did you handle it?

I am still bullied at school. I try to just ignore what people are doing and saying, but it can be tough. I turn all of my frustration and hurt into drive, persistence, and motivation for working on my research. When people say that I can’t do something whether it be because I am a girl or a teenager, it motivates me to work harder to prove to them that I can.

What is the #1 misconception you think adults have when it comes to teen girls?

I feel many adults think that teens don’t understand anything beyond makeup, boys, and the basics learned at school, but we understand a lot more than that!

Finally, based on your experience, what’s the #1 piece of advice you have for other teens who want to make a difference in the world?

If you know how you want to make a difference but you don’t know how to start, reach out to someone. Many individuals and organizations are ecstatic to have teenagers who want to make a difference, and will help guide you in the right direction.

  • Click here for more work-life inspo from the awesome people on our #HowIMadeIt List
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