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Engineering & Physical Sciences 2019: Meet the Awardees

Time to get to know a little bit more about the 2019 Engineering & Physical Sciences Suffrage Science recipients and read some comments from their nominators.


Professor Moira Jardine

Planet Earth has a magnetic field, with magnetic north being at the North Pole. But this polarity can naturally switch and flip often after hundreds of thousands of years, so that the magnetic north is actually at the South Pole. Stars, like the Earth, have a magnetic pole which flips over time as well. Prof Jardine has recently not only observed that a star (tau boo) has flipped its magnetic pole, but that it has done so because a very large planet has come so close that it has synchronised itself to it's new neighbour.


Dr Sarah Harris

From analysing the genes, along with the physical and cognitive traits, of 3511 untreated adults, Dr Harris and colleagues found that variation of intelligence frequently depends, and can be predicted by features, on the genes.


Dr Roisin Owens

Dr Owens and colleagues have generated an electronic tube-like structure through which nutrients can flow, much like blood vessels, that can be used in the body. Not only can cells grow on the surface of the tube, but it can also monitor the growth and adhesion of cells as well.


Professor Tiny De Keuster

Serious dog bites that require medical attention are increasing, and the highest rates of dog bite injuries occur in children. Prof De Keuster and colleagues have developed a successful training method to teach children to read dog distress gestures shown by the dog before it bites.


Professor Karen Holford

Prof Holford and colleagues have developed a highly accurate way to detect when gears are getting worn down in racing cars. many have previously used vibration and sound as indicators of how the gears are functioning, but they have used the magnetic field given off by the gears instead.

Professor Sheila Rowan, University of Glasgow, UK, says "Karen is something still rather rare - a female senior professor of Engineering. She has a track record of achievement across both industry and academia working across a range of exciting areas including on Pegasus engines whilst at Rolls Royce and on transferring technology to BMW for anti-lock brakes on road cars. Off the road but on the track, she has been known to further exercise her interests in the automotive world by racing a Caterham 7. Her contribution to encouraging women and girls to fulfil their potential has been recognised for example by her being awarded the WISE Excellence Award for “personal contribution to engineering and a long-term commitment to supporting girls and young women in science and engineering” in 2007. She was elected, in 2015 a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering and in 2016 she was named in the inaugural list from the Daily Telegraph of the '50 Most Influential Women in Engineering. I believe she would be an inspiring recipient of a Suffrage Science award."


Professor Serena Best

A bioscaffold is an artificial structure which is implanted in the body where cells and tissues grow. This is often in the replacement of a missing or damaged organ. The specifics of the 3D structure of a tissue is incredibly important in how new cells grow and behave. Through using a freezing technique Prof Best and colleagues have developed a way to make the inside architecture of the scaffold more realistic to the biological tissue.

Professor Cathy Holt, Cardiff University, UK, says "I am very pleased to nominate Prof Serena Best who is a Professor of Materials Science at the University of Cambridge.

She holds a number of influential positions:

· She became an Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering(FREng) in 2012 and currently Chairs the Royal Academy of Engineering Biomedical Engineering Panel.

· She was awarded a CBE in the 2017 Birthday Honours, "For services to Biomaterials Engineering”.

She directs the Cambridge Centre for Medical Materials and through various prestigious Fellowships has been instrumental in innovation and spin out of her ideas into medical devices for patient benefit. Her research involves the design and development of medical implants with structure and composition similar to natural tissues.

She is a great role model for her team and for the wider community and deserves a Suffrage Science Award for this and in recognition of her many and great achievements."


Dr Tara Garnett

One can make a sustainable impact through their diet. A sustainable diet is one the benefits and contributes environment sustainability. it involves an increase in foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes and nuts, and decreases in foods like red meat, sugar and defined grains. Such diet changes will mean that we are better placed to reach the sustainable development goals by 2030 set by the UN.

Professor Sabine Gabrysch, Universitat Heidelberg, Germany, says "Tara is tackling a highly important and challenging issue, the link between our food system and climate change, bringing together health, environment and social sciences. She was a pioneer in this area, set up the Food Climate Research Network and contributes detailed critical thinking on sustainable diets. I admire her commitment and integrity, and her skill and energy in bringing together actors inside and outside of academia towards the common goal of creating a more sustainable food system."


Dr Isabel Palacios

Drosophila, also known as fruit flies, are a common research tool and they have been a powerful and cost-effective research model which can be scaled up and improve research outputs. Given that scientific research is influential in developing and shaping societies and African researchers make up around 2% only of the world's academic research community, DrosAfrica was founded to address this. Dr Palacios is a founder of DrosAfrica which aims to develop and increase the community of researchers that use Drosophila to research biomedical problems on the African continent.

Dr Marta Vincente-Crespo, St Augustine International University, Uganda, says "I am honoured to pass this Suffrage Science award to Dr. Isabel Palacios. Her passion to pursue a scientific career of the highest standard while being one of the most wonderful people I have ever met are a constant inspiration. Her work on cytoplasmic flow dynamics is just a reflection of how she can bring the world together in her network, not just working in teams but creating those teams and get them to entertain ideas at the boundaries of Biology I cannot think of any woman who has had a bigger impact in my scientific career and by passing this award to her I am saying a big thank you for making me a better scientist and a better person."


Professor Amina Helmi

We can tell how our universe, and more specifically how our galaxy, was formed just by looking at the stars. During formation, a galaxy leaves behind imprints akin to a fossil, which impact the way stars are spaced out, move along with their composition and age; all of which can be accessed. Prof Helmi uses this information to theorise the construction and history of our galaxy.

Professor Marileen Dogterom, Delft University of Technology, Netherlands, says "I would like to nominate professor Amina Helmi from Groningen University because of the excellent science she is and has been contributing ever since her PhD to the field of astronomy. Her groundbreaking discoveries on galaxy evolution and dynamics, and in particular her insight in the formation history of our Milky Way, manage to inspire many outside her own research area, including myself. She furthermore provides an excellent role model to young female scientists."


Professor Sue Kimber

Prof Kimber and colleagues have developed a method to directly differentiate human pluripotent stem cells into early stage cartilage cells known as chondrocytes. This will work towards a new therapy for diseases such as osteoarthritis, but also share insights into how components of the stem cell niche influence stem cell behaviours and properties.

Professor Sheila MacNeil, University of Sheffield, UK, says "It is my pleasure to nominate Sue Kimber for this award. As a Professor of Stem and Developmental biology she plays a major role in developing cell lines that will be of clinical use in the UK. She is a scientist of international stature and combines great science with a common sense friendly approach that make her an excellent role model for younger female scientists."


Professor Marzieh Moosavi-Nasab

Prof Moosavi-Nasab and colleagues have found that food and industry grade gelatine can be made from fish waste using enzymes from bacteria.


Professor Melinda Duer

Chemical changes in our blood vessels cause our arteries to harden as we age, which can lead to heart disease or stroke. In collaboration with King's College, Prof Duer discovered a biopolymer involved in the formation of new bone that contributes to those blockages and are now working on developing possible treatments for vascular disease.

Professor Sharon Ashbrook, University of St. Andrews, UK, says "Melinda has been a role model to generations of students and early career staff in her department and the wider research field. She has great enthusiasm for her research, really enjoys working closely with all her students and is extremely encouraging to all of the younger researchers she speaks to at conferences. She provided significant help and support when I began my academic career, and has continued to provide me with advice throughout the years. She is very generous and supportive, and particularly encourages the ambitions of her female coworkers. She has shown how a caring, encouraging and positive atmosphere within a research lab can lead to high-quality and innovative scientific research. I probably would not have made the choices that have led to the career I have enjoyed without her support."

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