Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell is credited with one of the most significant scientific discoveries of the twentieth century for which her thesis advisor was awarded the Nobel Prize: that of the first radio pulsars. She went on to become the president of the Royal Astronomical Society in 2002, the first female president of the Institute of Physics in 2008 and in October 2014 she was appointed the first female president of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. For her numerous contributions to the astrophysical community, she was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2007 along with several other honours including (but not limited to) the Albert A. Michelson Medal, the J. Robert Oppenheimer Memorial Prize, and the Herschel Medal. In 2013, she was named one of the most powerful women in the UK by BBC radio 4. She is a strong supporter of women in physics, empowering women and serving as a remarkable role model.
Professor Katherine Blundell is both an accomplished astrophysicist and a strong supporter of science education. Katherine is currently a Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Oxford and a Research Fellow of St John’s College, Oxford. Prior to this, she was appointed as a University Research Fellow of the Royal Society and she has been awarded prizes including the prestigious Philip Leverhulme Prize, the Royal Society’s Rosalind Franklin Prize, and the Institute of Physics’s Bragg Medal. Her main research interests include the formation and lifecycles of active galaxies. She has co-authored the textbook “Concepts in Thermal Physics” and edited the book “Energy…beyond Oil.” Through her innovative project, Global Jet Watch, Katherine provides young students at schools in South Africa, Chile, Australia and India with the opportunity to enjoy using telescopes and collecting data at her observatories.
Professor Sarah Bonhdiek leads a highly interactive and successful international research team at the University of Cambridge. She is passionate about using new technological innovations to improve the understanding of metabolic processes in disease. Her endeavours will help to improve cancer patient survival by finding new routes to overcome drug resistance and enable earlier cancer detection. For her novel efforts, she has been awarded numerous prizes including the Paterson Medal, the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions Prize for Nurturing Research Talent, and the WISE (Women in to Science and Engineering) Research Award “for groundbreaking scientific research by a female-led team which has advanced knowledge and will make a difference to people’s lives.” Beyond her scientific achievements, she is active in promoting science as a career and is involved with the Stemettes as well as participating in the Cancer Research UK Women of Influence campaign.
Dr Kate Lancaster’s enthusiasm for plasma physics is infectious. As a frequent BBC commentator and organiser of the British Science Festival’s physics programme, her passion captivates audiences. She has worked alongside famous scientists including Brian Cox, Maggie Aderin-Pocock, and Paul Nurse. As a physicist at the University of York, she has made significant research contributions to inertial confinement fusion that is aimed at generating fusion energy for clean, public energy consumption. Furthermore, she now serves as the Plasma and Fusion Industrial Officer for the York Plasma Institute, which enables her to foster links with industry and commercialise fusion energy for public use. Outside of science, Kate balances her life with her love for dancing.
Named as one of the UK’s most outstanding women by the UK Resource Centre for Women in SET, Dr Helen Mason is a high-profile solar physicist at the University of Cambridge specialising in the analysis of the ultraviolet and X-ray spectrum from the solar atmosphere. She is a co-investigator on the major ESA/NASA project—the Solar Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) which involves the study of the solar interior, solar atmosphere and the solar wind. Her observations have given scientists great insight into the nature of the Sun and its interaction with the Earth. Additionally, she is a founding member of the highly successful international collaboration CHIANTI, which provides an atomic database for the analysis of astrophysical spectra. For her many contributions to science, she has been named one of the “Women of Outstanding Achievement of 2010” and appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 2014. Helen currently leads the outreach project Sun | Trek, which investigates the Sun and its effects on the Earth.
Space-time expert Professor Sheila Rowan and her colleagues at the University of Glasgow are leading the hunt to prove the existence of the elusive and exciting theory of gravitational waves. First predicted by Einstein, gravitational waves are thought to be ripples in space-time caused by cosmic events such as the merging of two galaxies. Once these waves reach Earth, they could provide us with information about the beginnings, and future of, the Universe. In addition to publishing over 150 articles, Sheila was the recipient of the Leverhulme Prize, the Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award, and named a member of the Order of the British Empire. She currently serves as an experimental physicist and Director of the Institute for Gravitational Research in the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Glasgow.
As the first female Professor of Physics at the University of Liverpool, Professor Tara Shears is a leading voice in the world of science communication. After being awarded the Royal Society University Research Fellowship, she worked at the Collider Detector at the Fermilab facility near Chicago and then joined the LHCb experiment at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider in 2004. Specifically, she is testing the Standard Model theory in the electroweak sector to understand why there is so little antimatter in the Universe. She believes that “great science like great art, enriches our lives and gives us a way to make sense of the world.” Outside of research, Tara serves as a science communicator and has been interviewed by a variety of news agencies including the BBC and Discovery Channel.
Dr Heather Williams is strongly committed to encouraging more women to pursue interests in science through her many outreach efforts. She is a Senior Medical Physicist for Nuclear Medicine at Central Manchester University Hospitals and Honorary Lecturer in the Centre for Imaging Sciences at Manchester University. Heather works on nuclear medicine imaging, a non-invasive and painless method of diagnosing diseases including cancer. Most notably, she is one of the founders and directors of ScienceGrrl, a grassroots network (with a large following including 19 local chapters) supporting and celebrating women in science, technology, engineering and maths. She actively enables young women to reach their full potential through her many efforts as a STEM Ambassador and as the Chair of the Women in Physics Group at the Institute of Physics, and serves as an inspiring role model to all.