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  • Suffrage Science

Engineering and Physical Sciences 2021: Nomination Speeches

Updated: May 6, 2021

The 2019 Suffrage Science Awardees on why they have nominated the next recipients of their award.


Professor Moira Jardine, University of St. Andrews, has nominated Dr Gaitee Hussain, Head of Science Division at the European Space Agency (ESA). Professor Jardine said:

“Gaitee is an authority on young stars and their impact on both their environments and their planets. She develops techniques to map the magnetic fields on these stars and to use this to detect their planets. She wears her expertise lightly though - Gaitee laughs more than almost anyone else I know. Throughout her career, she has also put her enthusiasm and energy into inspiring young girls and women into science. She is living proof that you don’t have to sacrifice good humour to acquire gravitas.”


Dr Sarah Harris, University of Leeds, has nominated Professor Syma Khalid, University of Southampton. Professor Harris said:

“I have chosen Syma because her computer simulations are massive, they always aspire towards biological complexity, and are frankly jaw-droppingly awesome to watch. I also want to thank Syma for being such an amazing community builder. She achieves this by making things fun to do, which brings us all together. It is in Syma’s nature to put the needs of our community before her own, and she is compelled to emphasise the contribution made by her students and colleagues to her many successful projects. I’m therefore very grateful to Sarah Staniland for giving me this chance to say 'Syma matey – today it’s just about you!'"


Professor Roisin Owens, University of Cambridge, has nominated Professor Natalie Stingelin, Georgia Institute of Technology. Professor Owens said:

“Natalie is a tremendous advocate for diversity in science and engineering. She was incredibly supportive of me when I started out, mentoring me and suggesting my name for conferences and editorial work. She has worked tirelessly to support women and is very active on social media. She has brought countless young researchers, especially women under her wing, helping them to develop their careers. She is also very proactive in getting the old guard to be inclusive and diverse – including calling out conference organisers for not including women in their speaker lists. In her role as editor at RSC she has been very involved in trying to improve diversity and equality in publishing also.”


Professor Tiny De Keuster, Ghent University, has nominated Professor Ina van Berckelaer-Onnes, Leiden University. Professor De Keuster said:

“My professional admiration goes to Prof. Onnes relating to her research in the field of Autism spectrum disorders in children. Professor Onnes hereby has made a difference in the lives of families and children.”


Professor Karen Holford CBE, Cardiff University, has nominated Dr Hayaatun Sillem CBE, Chief Executive of the Royal Academy of Engineering. Professor Holford said:

“Dr Hayaatun Sillem is a truly inspiring leader who is changing the face of engineering in the UK. She is unapologetically passionate about using her voice to champion others, especially those from underrepresented groups in society. She is the first female Chief Executive of the Royal Academy of Engineering and is bringing her passion for diversity and inclusion to address positively the diversity deficit which exists in the profession. What I really admire about her is her passion and determination to drive positive change and to positively challenge the status quo - Hayaatun has extensive leadership experience in UK and international engineering and innovation policy and programmes and she uses this experience to extremely good effect to drive the UK engineering community to shape the world with a shared vision for positive change.”


Professor Serena Best CBE, University of Cambridge, has nominated Professor Ruth Cameron, University of Cambridge. Professor Best said:

“Professor Ruth Cameron is a highly successful and respected scientist in the field of Biomaterials whose organisational abilities and communication skills are outstanding. Most recently, she has become the first female appointee to lead the Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy, University of Cambridge in the Office of Head of Department. Ruth's work ethic will provide inspiration to the next generation of young female scientists - demonstrating that the key to success is collegial support and collaboration.”


Dr Tara Garnett, University of Oxford, has nominated Dr Elin Röös, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. Dr Garnett said:

“I’m nominating Elin Röös for her important work at the intersection of food systems, the environment and human wellbeing. Elin has made invaluable contributions to our understanding of what more sustainable food systems look like; she combines scientific rigour with a strong personal commitment to ‘walking the talk’, environmentally speaking, in her own life.”


Dr Isabel Palacios, Queen Mary University of London, has nominated Dr Maria Dolores (Lola) Martín Bermudo, Centro Andaluz de Biología del Desarrollo. Dr Palacios said:

“I chose Dr Maria Dolores Martin Bermudo (Lola), as the recipient of my award, because she has been an inspiration to me since the day I met her. Lola is not only an excellent scientist with a very active mind but also a great leader and mentor. It is never dull when you’re with her, whether teaching together in Africa or discussing our next lab collaboration.”


Professor Amina Helmi, University of Groningen, has nominated Dr Samaya Nissanke, University of Amsterdam and Nikhef. Professor Helmi said:

“Samaya is an excellent researcher focusing on a very hot topic in modern Astrophysics, namely on gravitational waves (Nobel Prize 2017) and how they tell us about the merger of pairs of neutron stars and black holes. She was part of the discovery of the first ever binary neutron star merger that was seen by gravitational waves by the international LIGO and Virgo collaboration in 2017. She was in fact part of the writing team for the discovery paper and was responsible for coordinating the follow-up from many different observatories. Not only is she an outstanding scientist, but she is also a fervent and devoted advocate of diversity and inclusion in science, and beyond. She is the chair of Netherlands Astronomy Equity and Inclusion Committee, which she helped set up.”


Professor Sue Kimber, University of Manchester, has nominated Professor Gerjo van Osch, Erasmus University Medical Center. Professor Kimber said:

“Gerjo Van Osch is Professor of Connective Tissue Regeneration in the Departments of Orthopaedics and Otorhinolaryngology at Erasmus MC, University Medical Center Rotterdam, with an honorary chair in Integrative Cartilage Regeneration at Delft University of Technology. Her research focuses on cellular mechanisms of chondrogenesis, the use of stem cells and biomaterials in tissue engineering for cartilage repair, and the influence of the inflamed environment in cartilage repair. Gerjo is currently the chair of the Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine International Society (TERMIS)-EU and has served on the board of several (inter)national research societies and journals. She is an excellent scientist and a go to person for wise and thoughtful advice in the field: she is an inspirational and excellent role model for young researchers, especially women, in the tissue engineering field. Gerjo has published widely (with >200papers) and coordinates a Horizon2020 MSCA-ITN.”


Professor Marzieh Moosavi-Nasab, Shiraz University, has nominated Professor Valérie Orsat, McGill University. Professor Moosavi-Nasab said:

“Valérie Orsat is a Professor in the Department of Bioresource Engineering and the Associate-Dean of Student Affairs at the Macdonald Campus of McGill University. She is an internationally-recognized expert in the area of functional foods and nutraceuticals in the field of global food security and safety challenges. Her current research explores the development of processing methods for enhanced production, extraction, and encapsulation of bioactive compounds for functional foods. Prior to joining McGill as a faculty member, Valérie co-ordinated the training activities of two international developmental projects with the Canadian International Development Agency and the International Development and Research Council of Canada in post-harvest engineering. She has also been an award-winner and proud member of the Canadian Society for Bioengineering. She was nominated and selected as one of the 2017 Women of Innovation in Engineering in Canada. Being a successful woman in engineering is not only helping the recruitment of women in engineering, with the admission of 50% women in the program during her years as department chair, but also the continued mentoring of female students and supporting their choices of pursuing careers in the profession.”


Professor Melinda Duer, University of Cambridge, has nominated Dr Mary Anti Chama, University of Ghana. Professor Duer said:

“I have known Mary since she was a Cambridge-Africa Research Fellow in Cambridge. She impressed me then with how she approached interdisciplinary science, and brought in whatever techniques she needed in her quest to find new pharmaceutical compounds in plants. She has continued to impress me as she has developed her science and brought in new collaborators. She has been a champion for women in science throughout her career and very supportive of students and younger colleagues alike. I hope she won't mind my saying that she also ensured that all her siblings had access to higher education - and now continues that with ensuring that her graduate students have what they need to be successful. I always enjoy any discussion with Mary - she has shown me how one can be kind, compassionate and still be ambitious in one's science.”

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