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Women in Science 2019

Written by Eleanor Sanger, posted on Monday, February 11, 2019

February 11th is the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. We have a huge number of inspirational women among both our staff and students, including many working in science who achieve some incredible things. To celebrate their achievements, here’s a summary of news featuring our women in science from the past year – from publications and podcasts, to brand new initiatives and expeditions across the world…

Let’s start by taking a look at this year’s blog posts celebrating just a few of Christ Church’s brilliant women in science - a great opportunity to find out more about their amazing research, why they wanted to study science, and some of the women who’ve inspired them during their careers so far. There’s Dr Alvina Lai, a Lecturer in Biological Sciences whose work relates to fighting cancer, Dr Jena Meinecke, a Junior Research Fellow in Physics who recreated a supernova in the lab, Professor Stephanie Cragg, a Tutor in Medicine whose research in the field of neuroscience leads to fundamental new insights into the way our brains work, and Dr Kathleen Vancleef, whose work aims to improve the lives of adults and children with brain injuries.

We’ve also been finding out more about Dr Becky Smethurst, who carries out research into galaxies and black holes, and also has a successful YouTube channel where she discusses some of the questions and unsolved mysteries that she comes across as part of her work!

Our female academics’ research has also been hitting the headlines over the past year. Dr Kerri Donaldson Hanna was recently interviewed about her fascinating work as a participating scientist on NASA’S OSIRIS-REx mission to the asteroid Bennu on BBC Sky at Night’s podcast, Radio Astronomy! Dr Brianna Heazlewood was featured in an article on ultracold chemistry in Chemistry World, a monthly chemistry news magazine published by the Royal Society of Chemistry, and Dr Patricia Lockwood was the lead author on a paper discussing sense of ownership, which was published in Nature Communications. 

In the past year Dr Lockwood has also been awarded Rising Star designation by the Association for Psychological Science, and won the ESCAN 2018 Young Scientist Award!

Earlier this academic year, Dr Leah Morabito, Millard and Lee Alexander Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Astrophysics at Christ Church, set up a new initiative for women members of the SCR, from JRFs, Postdoctoral Research Fellows and affiliated senior researchers, to lecturers, Official Students and Canons. The aim is both to promote women at Christ Church and help them network with each other. So far they’ve held a dinner for women in the SCR, and there are plenty of future events to keep an eye out for...

Last May, Biological Sciences student Olivia Grant was presented with the Scientific Exploration Society Rivers Foundation Award. The award was created to support a ‘pioneer with purpose’ who is leading an exhibition combining adventure and scientific purpose, and Olivia joined fellow Christ Church student Annika Schlemm and professional wildlife photographer and film maker Ben Cherry in taking on a conservation and documentary film expedition to the Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia!

Our female scientists also get up to some pretty impressive things when they’re not studying! Graduate student Naomi Holland, studying for a DPhil in Atomic and Laser Physics, was part of the victorious coxed four reserve that represented the Oxford University Women’s Lightweight Rowing Club in the Boat Races against Cambridge last year, and also competed for the University of Oxford and Great Britain at the European Universities Games 2018 in Coimbra last July. Alumna Chloe Brooks, who studied Biological Sciences and matriculated in 2012, is racing in the gruelling 156-mile Marathon des Sables, taking place over 7 days in the Sahara Desert this April, to raise money for Hope for Children.

All in all, some very impressive Christ Church women in science!