Suffrage Science 2014

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Introduction 2

Heirloom Provenance 4 Interviews Heirloom Awardees 2014 Shannon Au 6 Sarah Bohndiek 8 Jane Endicott 10 Lynda Erskine 12 Anne Ferguson-Smith 14 Anja Groth 16 Jenny Rohn 18 Kate Storey 20 Irene Tracey 22 Xiaomeng (Mona) Xu 24 Ele Zeggini 26 Biographies Heirloom Carriers 2012-2014 28


More women are working in science than ever before. Yet they make up less than a tenth of UK professors in science, technology, engineering and maths. Nonetheless, a diversity of policies and initiatives dedicated to promoting women’s careers has set the wheels of change in motion. Inspired by the Suffragettes who campaigned for equal voting rights, here we are celebrating the achievements of women in science. For the third time since its launch, Suffrage Science 2014 is honouring eleven leading women in the life sciences. These pioneering women will receive an heirloom brooch or pendant from the current heirloomholders, who received it in 2012. In 2016, the jewellery will be passed onto the next generation of outstanding women life scientists and communicators. The handcrafted heirloom jewellery, designed by students at Central Saint Martins University of the Arts London, mimic the specially commissioned jewellery worn by noted women of the Suffrage movement. In this booklet you can discover the protégés’ life stories and their thoughts on the issue of women’s rights in science. The eleven women celebrated this year are...

Shannon Au Associate Professor of the School of Life Sciences, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Jenny Rohn Principal Research Associate in Clinical Physiology, University College London

Sarah Bohndiek Group Leader at the Department of Physics, University of Cambridge, and CRUK Cambridge Institute

Kate Storey Chair of Neural Development and Head of Cell and Developmental Biology, University of Dundee

Jane Endicott Professor of Cancer Structural Biology, Newcastle University

Irene Tracey Director of the Oxford Centre for Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Brain, University of Oxford

Lynda Erskine Chair in Development Neurobiology, University of Aberdeen

Xiaomeng (Mona) Xu Assistant Professor of Experimental Psychology, Idaho State University

Anne Ferguson-Smith Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator and Professor of Genetics, University of Cambridge

Ele Zeggini Professor of Human Genetics, Wellcome Trust Sangar Institute

Anja Groth Associate Professor and Group Leader of Molecular Biology, University of Copenhagen


Purple stands for the royal blood that flows in the veins of every suffragette. White stands for purity in private and public life. Green is the colour of hope and the emblem of spring. Suffragette Emmeline Pethick Lawrence, who selected the Suffrage colours in 1908

Design sketches of the heirloom pendant by Benita Gikaite

Design sketches of the heirloom brooch by Anya Malhotra


Heirloom Provenance



Shannon au nominated by tracey barrett

At Shannon’s Sunday school, her teacher would bring in biological specimens for the children to look at. Ten-year-old Shannon was amazed by the complex systems in nature, like the extraordinary organisation within a flower, and she longed to explore more. This curiosity to discover nature’s intricate mechanisms never waned and still fuels her desire to learn about the world around her. Her parents gave her the freedom and support to pursue her scientific interests, and a female cousin, a radiographer, made her realise that women could do well in science. Now, she’s an associate professor at the Chinese University in Hong Kong where her research focuses on looking at macromolecular complexes at an atomic level. Tracey Barrett, who’s passing on the heirloom, says, “Shannon and I first met in the late 1990s at the Institute of Cancer Research. We had many insightful conversations on the way to and from various European synchrotron courses and her advice was always invaluable. It was obvious at this early stage of her career that Shannon was an exceptional scientist and was clearly a group leader for the future.”

Shannon says that women scientists in Hong

Changing Times

Kong and China have a social and political role

This, she says, has already started to change.

to request more support from the government

Hong Kong and mainland China have embarked

in the form of funding and opportunities for

on collaborative exchange programmes, whereby

women to work in science. ‘This is particularly

Hong Kong universities receive students from

important in mainland China where women in

mainland China, and vice versa. “Nowadays

some underdeveloped areas have far fewer

the situation is improving because, locally

opportunities to be educated. Traditionally, in

and overseas, we have different scholarship

many rural areas they rely on agriculture as a

programmes that offer a chance for women

career, and women don’t have much of a role

researchers to develop their scientific careers. It

or position in society. If we can convince the

would help to do more of these exchanges, not

government to change the concept that women

only in well-developed cities, but underdeveloped

can do well in science by offering extra supports

ones as well. But we will need sufficient support

and opportunities, that culture will change.’

from the Hong Kong and Chinese governments.”


Traditionally, in many rural areas in China they rely on agriculture as a career and women don’t have much of a role or position in society. Shannon Au

Perseverance and Focus

easily, while men can still work long hours. Physically we may not be as strong as men, but our characters are strong enough. We are persevering and tough.”

In her field of X-ray crystallography the ratio of men and women scientists is fairly equal; most of the crystallographers she has met have been women. That’s unusual. “I guess women are more interested in looking at things in smaller, focused detail, such as molecular life forms, from which we can elucidate the overall mechanism. Women also have stronger perseverance, which is needed because growing crystal takes days or months.”

I ask Shannon what she thinks is causing the gender imbalance in science. “I once attended a workshop about the difficulties faced by women scientists. One of the concerns raised was about how women scientists can achieve a proper balance between work and family. When we start our career, it is often the time we also build our family. To a certain extent, this may lead to some delay for career development, or women simply don’t choose science as a lifelong career when supplementary support for them is unavailable.”

“When I talk to male colleagues I find they usually start from a wider, macroscopic angle and think about applications immediately. Whereas, when I talk to female scientists, we tend to start with something more focused and in-depth, and later go on to think about the translation of research.” Though Shannon would like to see more women as professional scientists, she doesn’t think it’s a must. Reaching a point at which in general one-third of all senior scientists in Hong Kong are female doesn’t strike her as realistically possible in the near future.

“Whenever I see a little flower, I very much admire the creation and all the intricate systems within it.” Shannon Au

“Being a female scientist isn’t easy partly because of our physical fitness and family commitment. At a certain age we get tired more


Sarah Bohndiek nominated by elizabeth murchison

Perhaps it was growing up in London’s Greenwich district, home of The Royal Observatory and National Maritime Museum, that sparked Sarah’s interest in science. Astronomy and astrophysics in particular fascinated her from a very young age, inspiring her to study for an additional GCSE in Astronomy during her school lunchtimes. This passion for physics compelled her to do her PhD in Radiation Physics, but after three years studying X-ray scattering in breast cancer, she decided to extend her training in physics to biochemistry to understand more about cancer itself, working as a post-doc in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Cambridge. “When I went round to look at post-doctoral labs, I was fortunate that Kevin Brindle at Cambridge was prepared to take someone on who’d never held a pipette and didn’t know anything about biology. In return, I hope that I fixed his imaging kit a few times,” she says. She went on to marry the two – physics and solving biological problems – and now leads a research team that is split between the University of Cambridge’s Department of Physics and the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute. Her molecular imaging research focuses on how cancers utilise oxygen and cope with its absence. Recently her efforts have led to the development of a new instrument for high throughput spectroscopy, and the use of imaging techniques to measure changes in blood oxygenation within tumours as they respond to chemotherapy. “Sarah Bohndiek is inspirational not only because of her world-leading research, technical expertise and contagious enthusiasm about science, but also because of her generosity in supporting and mentoring younger scientists and students. I am certain that the recognition of this award will inspire others to follow her lead, and seek out and continue careers in science,” says Elizabeth Murchison, who’s passing on the heirloom. “The first time I ever noticed an issue of gender balance was when I moved into a biochemistry laboratory for my postdoctoral fellowship and I suddenly thought, “There’s a hell of a lot of women here.” It never really dawned on me that I was working in a male-dominated environment in physics, which sounds quite naïve. But I’ve never suffered from the lack of female role models.”

Sarah says that because she has never felt disadvantaged herself, she hasn’t been acutely sensitive to gender issues. “All my mentors have been male. I’ve never felt in a position where I’ve been disadvantaged or held back. Instead, I’ve felt incredibly fortunate to have had a number of inspirational scientists as my mentors who have supported and encouraged me throughout my career.”


It’s vital to bring a range of perspectives to bear on any scientific question. Sarah Bohndiek

Diversity is Vital

three. “We’re expanding in the right direction and in the coming years we’ll see a substantial shift in those figures. I’m privileged that I’m in the same department as Professors Athene Donald and Val Gibson – two beacons of female representation in physics.”

So does she think gender imbalance is a problem? “Diversity, not just in gender but also in educational background, nationality and many other facets, is crucial for successful science. It’s vital to bring a range of perspectives to bear on any scientific question. Although I didn’t personally get put off doing science because of gender imbalance, it’s clear that a lot of students do at various career stages. It’s important that we don’t deny students of any age or background the opportunity to engage in stimulating scientific subjects. I’ve enjoyed engaging in outreach activities over my career, going into schools to communicate the message that science is exciting in its own right, but that it can also be used as a stepping stone into other professions.”

Their department was the first physics department in the UK to get an Athena SWAN gold award in recognition of their efforts in improving equality and diversity training, introducing family-friendly policies for staff and implementing positive actions with students and post-doctoral researchers. The Department runs a very active outreach programme for visiting school students, ranging from the Physics at Work exhibition, which includes more than 2000 students per year, to the Senior Physics Challenge, through which they aim to engage high school students from a wide range of backgrounds in Physics.

She thinks this concern about career paths in science might be more acute in girls. “Maybe girls think a long way ahead when making their choices, about what the rest of their life will be like as a scientist. It’s certainly a tough career path but it does bring many rewards.”

“In the winter I snow board and in the summer I cycle. Both get me out of the lab and up mountains

A Major Milestone

and breathing fresh air,

Perhaps this goes to explain why out of a total of around 55 members of academic research staff in Cambridge University’s Department of Physics, only five are women, which is ‘a major milestone.’ Two new women lecturers, including Sarah, joined this year; before there were only

which always helps to generate



and clear the mind.” Sarah Bohndiek


Jane Endicott receives Louise johnson’s heiloom

As a child, Jane learnt to calmly observe the world around her from an artist, her father. He saw observation as an essential quality in a child and he inspired his children to appreciate their surroundings. Jane’s parents would take her on remote camping holidays in their VW campervan, when her “dad’s criterion for a suitable campsite was one that didn’t have a wash block because he didn’t like the idea of being with loads of people.” During these trips Jane would exercise a love of the natural world, collecting bugs and filling up her pressed flower book. Through her father she also became aware of the importance of loving your job, a vocation that you live and breathe. “I never grew up with the view that work was something you didn’t want to do. I grew up in an environment where somebody could have a passion, like art or science, and do it as a job. When I come home in the evening, I like to read scientific papers. My fun crossword is devising cloning strategies, looking at structures, delving into patterns and having the fun of exploring proteins.” It wasn’t unusual for a girl at her school in Boldon, a village outside of Newcastle, to go into science, though she was the first student from the school to go to Oxbridge. Now she researches the mechanisms controlling the eukaryotic cell cycle at Newcastle University. Her particular area of interest is in using X-ray crystallography to determine structures for the protein complexes that drive cell cycle progression. Jane received her heirloom jewellery from Neil Brockdorff from the University of Oxford on behalf of Louise Johnson, who died unexpectedly in 2012. “The one hundred per cent consensus is that Louise would have wanted her former colleague, Jane Endicott, to have the heirloom,” said Neil. Historically, Jane’s field of crystallography has

cell cycle were such that there was a very good

always been strongly represented by women.

spirit of sharing, openness and collaboration,

Jane thinks this is a result of having excellent

she says.”

mentors and role models, like Dorothy Hodgkin

Is she concerned about the low proportion of

and Louise Johnson, in the field early on. “The

women in leading positions in science? “Yes.

scientists who have shaped the attitudes of the

That’s worrying. There’s a whole cohort of very

fields of protein crystallography and eukaryotic

talented scientists who are being trained and not


In terms of the productivity of the scientist over their lifetime, why not allow somebody to go slow for five years and then be back in the fold and working? Jane Endicott

making it through the critical period between

Mental Space

finishing their first post-docs and getting a

Jane believes that time away from the lab can be hugely beneficial to research. “A lot of positives can come out of not being with your nose to the grindstone all the time. If you have kids, you bring a whole new perspective to doing science. When I was on maternity leave, I was able to step back from the work and look at things globally, and I would say that was very useful for the group. I did an awful lot of creative thinking going on long walks in maternity leave trying to get my child to go to sleep.”

junior faculty position. A lot of them want to stay in science but there are other demands on their time.” Working for Longer Jane thinks that, in order to address the issue of the leaky pipeline, we must bear in mind that the whole landscape of how people work has changed. Now that researchers are being asked to work until they are 67, five to ten years longer than was often the case for academics

She says that stepping out of the normal routine is part of the idea behind sabbaticals. “Why is this so much part of our culture in science in one context, and yet, when we need to take leave for other reasons, it’s frowned upon?”

until recently, there’s time to have a career break and take it easy for a few years, she says. “People will just progress a little slower at a certain point in their career. In terms of the productivity of the scientist over their lifetime, why not allow somebody to go slow


for five years and then be back in the fold and






running shoes on and go off.

working?” Part of the problem, she says, is that

And when I’m pounding the

the funding structure considers being a group

streets and looking at the

leader as the culmination of a scientific career


rather than considering other models for career




when I get my best ideas.”

progression. “This whole argument about how we do science can get bogged down in it being

Jane Endicott

a woman’s issue, but it’s not.”


Lynda Erskine nominated by christiana ruhrberg

Lynda is a professor in Development Neurobiology at the University of Aberdeen. Originally she went there to study medicine, but after a couple of years she did an intercalated degree in Medical Sciences, and realised she was more interested in research. Lynda’s research focuses on two areas. One looks at how the eye develops and how this impacts on eye disease later in life, the other focuses on how the eye connects to the brain, which could lead to novel strategies for regeneration of damaged optic axons. Christiana Ruhrberg, who’s passing on the heirloom, says, “Aside from delivering research that is consistently at the forefront of her field, Lynda is an inspirational colleague due to her enthusiasm, scientific rigor and collaborative spirit. She has been a role model to her students and staff alike, inspiring them to pursue a career in science through teaching, mentoring and leading by example. As a current member of the committee of British Society for Developmental Biology, Lynda effectively helps to promote UK science and the careers of young researchers, and through public engagement activities for school children helps to attract young people into biomedical research. She is an inspirational role model for women seeking a future in STEM.” Farewell Old School Ways

When Lynda first went to Aberdeen University to study medicine in 1988, she was shocked by

“But that old school attitude is working its way

what she was told by a senior member of staff.

out of the system. Things like the Athena SWAN

“He didn’t agree with women doing medicine as

initiative embed equality into the university

they took up places men should have. His view

system and make people realise that such

was that we’ll go off and have children, and

behaviour is unacceptable.”

then we’ll just not care anymore” says Lynda.

Lynda says programmes like the Athena SWAN

But what really shocked her were the other

initiative are excellent, but warns that we

women present. “They kept telling me to be

must be careful to make sure it doesn’t go too

quiet, that you shouldn’t argue with this person.

far the other way. “It’s about getting gender

That was the first time I ever encountered

balance and not just about making things

being told I couldn’t do something because I

better for women. I don’t believe in positive

was a girl.” This experience stayed with her for

discrimination. I don’t believe discrimination

the rest of her life.

can ever be positive. If we started bringing in


It’s about getting gender balance and not just about making things better for women. I don’t believe in positive discrimination. Lynda Erskine

policies that made men feel they were being discriminated against, that would be very bad.’”

to find a work-family balance and for some women it’s just a step too far. Some of the people that work for me are tied to Aberdeen. My fear is that eventually they’re going to hit the time when they’ve done their post-docs but there might not be a principle investigator position for them here, and because of family commitments, they can’t move elsewhere. I fear that suddenly they’ll be out of science.”

Of course Lynda has had extremely positive influences in her professional life as well. “I was really fortunate to work at Colombia University in New York with Professor Carol Mason. She’s a huge advocate for promoting women’s careers in science and mentoring women. She supports everybody in her lab irrespective of what they decide to go on and do, which is quite unusual.” Lynda strives to follow Carol’s example by encouraging her students in whatever they want to do, whether that be science or something else.

And how is Aberdeen University addressing gender imbalance? The university is trying not to schedule meetings before 10am or after 4pm to enable people to drop off and pick up from their kids school. They are also implementing family-friendly policies, such as flexible working hours.

Snowball Effect In her field of Developmental Neurobiology a roughly equal proportion of men and women researchers work in the field, including in leadership positions. She thinks this is a result of the ‘snowball effect’, whereby more women are attracted to a particular field when inspirational women scientists are already established in it.

“I don’t drive. I walk everywhere. Walking is a time to think about ideas and put them together. You get that feeling of freedom when suddenly ideas click and you think, “Of course”.”

But she says, “Science as a career is hard at the moment because of the short contracts and job insecurity – and maybe this does impact slightly more on women. It’s much harder

Lynda Erskine


anne ferguson-smith nominated by nicole soranzo

Anne saw her first chromosome when she was seven years old. Although she didn’t know it then, this experience would colour the rest of her life. “I can still remember that picture: a single human chromosome,” she says. “That was when I developed this love of chromosomes and wonder of inheritance and genetics.” Some time later, she read about recombinant DNA in Scientific American and applied to do Molecular Biology at Glasgow University. Since then her research has made key contributions towards understanding the molecular basis of the epigenetic control of genome function. Earlier this year, she became Head of the Department of Genetics at the University of Cambridge, making her the first female Head of Department in the School of Biological Sciences. Nicole Soranzo, who’s passing on the heirloom, says, “Anne’s scientific integrity and enjoyment of science have been a constant source of inspiration for me, and she has been very generous with her time in supporting and mentoring me as well as many other younger scientists.” “I’m the first female Head of Department in

Restrictive Time Limits

the School of Biological Sciences at Cambridge

“They would like to go on and drive their own research programmes now that their children are in school, but they can’t because the time limit for applying for fellowships – eight to ten years post PhD – has passed. This was the time these women were having children.” Anne looks forward to seeing more creative programmes to help women get on the independent ladder, like The European Molecular Biology Organisation’s (EMBO) Young Investigator Awards. Young researchers can receive this award up to four years after starting their own group, but eligibility is extended for women who have children, so women scientists receive an extra year per child.

– that’s outrageous. The department has six female academic staff members out of 26. We are a small department and women are outnumbered,” says Anne. The main reason there are fewer senior women in science is because there’s a huge drop off between post-doctoral and permanent positions, which is associated with having children. Anne suggests two ways to overcome this problem. “Firstly, funders should do away with age restrictions for women when they apply for independent fellowships. This would allow them to forge independent careers later in life. In my department, I have extremely competent research scientists who’ve had a

The second change Anne highlights, noting that others may not share her opinion, is a

couple of kids and are now senior post-docs.”


Funders should do away with age restrictions for women when they apply for independent fellowships. Anne Ferguson-Smith

men generally come up with all-male lists. Sometimes as an afterthought they identify a woman because they feel that they ought to. There needs to be more than one ‘token woman’ in these committee and board contexts. It’s important to have mixed gender situations where men and women come together and better use others’ strengths and creativity. Indeed bringing senior women together is also very constructive.”

movement towards more flexible parental policies. When her second child was born, Anne worked in an atmosphere of complete flexibility. She attended academic staff meetings and went into the lab to interact with her group for two or three hours a day to keep up the momentum. But some people tried to tell her that she should be at home with her child. She just ignored them. “I had the attitude that there were no rules; I was going to function in whatever manner worked for me and my daughter, and it only worked for us because my workplace was a flexible one. To be able to do what works for you, and have the support of colleagues who understand this, is really important because you can’t plan for how you’re going to be when you have a child, and every parent and child is different. I also like to see men taking a more active role in childcare and am trying to encourage this in my department.”

“I can still see it in my mind: a single human

An Afterthought

the microscope. My father is a medical

Anne says that this has been evolving during her professional lifetime. “In Cambridge we now have a senior gender equality network that consists predominantly of women and our interactions are refreshingly useful and strategic. We can take more responsibility for increasing the representation of women in strategic decision-making positions.”

chromosome just sitting in a field under geneticist – and he ran a diagnostic

I ask Anne if she has ever been a victim of, or witnessed, gender bias. “I’ve sat on recruitment boards for professorships and women are always in the minority – often just me. You think of people you want to ask if they’d be interested in applying for the job and my lists are mixed in gender. Senior academic

cytogenetics lab – and he told me that all inherited information was carried on chromosomes like that. I thought that was awesome.” Anne Ferguson-Smith


anja groth nominated by edith heard

A particularly formative experience for Anja took place when, during her master’s in Biochemistry, she worked at St Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, where they treat children with brain tumours. This had a big impact on Anja; suddenly her research into the role of oncogenes became extremely important. She returned to Denmark to do her PhD at the Danish Cancer Society, where she worked on DNA damage. There, her fascination with chromatin was borne. Since 2008, she has been running a lab at the University of Copenhagen’s Biotech Research and Innovation Centre.

ungrounded,” she says. “No one in science will be selected for a PI position unless they’re qualified for it. It’s very important for women to have encouragement, for their mentors and supervisors to highlight their contributions and potential as future scientific leaders.”

In Denmark, as in the UK, the number of men and women that enter the life sciences is roughly equal, and remains constant through PhD and post-doctorate levels. The transition from post-doc to principle investigator (PI) is where the profession loses a number of talented women.

In Denmark there’s a tendency for younger women to get embarrassed by the gender issue in science, she says. “Some young women don’t feel they should be favoured over their male colleagues, but there are still a lot of barriers that we need to talk about in order to tackle them.”

I ask if there are any signs of this changing in Denmark. “Yes, I’m sure we can address the gender imbalance. I see very talented, driven women in my lab everyday, and if we give them the right conditions, I’m certain they will continue to advance independently in science.” Ungrounded Doubts

Anja doesn’t think everything can be solved by role models or soft skill initiatives like career development workshops. “The life of a PI has challenges when combined with family life, and many don’t find it attractive enough. I don’t think many women today would choose an academic career at the cost of family, so it’s

Anja thinks that the low number of women senior scientists is partly a consequence of family commitments, but she also believes that many talented women doubt their capabilities as future leaders more than their male colleagues. “But such doubts are


I’m sure we can address the gender imbalance. I see very talented, driven women in my lab everyday, and if we give them the right conditions, I’m certain they will continue to advance independently in science. Anja Groth

absolutely essential that we make initiatives that allow women to combine family with a scientific career.”

enlightened basis. The more you know about the PI job, the more likely you are to make the right decision to pursue it or not. At least you won’t choose not to because you doubt your own abilities.”

Not Enough Money “There’s a lot of people who wish to solve this issue, and a lot of activities that try to address the problem. But there’s not enough money put into it, for example, to build infrastructure such as day-care facilities specifically tailored for researchers.”

This is where female role models can help, and Anja sees herself as one. “This is obvious. There are not a lot of female PIs and the number of girls that apply to my lab is higher than the number of males. I have a lot of interaction with younger women who seek inspiration about building a scientific career and research group.”

Eu-Life How does the University of Copenhagen encourage women to stay in the life sciences? Anja says the university is part of an organisation called EU-Life, and she is a member of the group heading an application urging the EU to make gender initiatives. “For instance, we can equip our post-docs better before they make the decision as to whether they should pursue an academic career or not. Right now, they get a lot of research training, doing experiments at the bench, but they also need some of the soft skills, such as how to handle interactions with editors, so they know what is required of a PI. Once you know, it stops being mission impossible and becomes achievable. It’s always better to make your choice of career on an

“I very much enjoy going to exhibitions, particularly sculpture and photography. It gives me room for tranquillity and thinking. I did that a lot when I was in my postdoc years in Paris. The tranquillity and thinking about something really different helps to wipe the board clean and come up with new ideas.” Anja Groth


Jenny Rohn nominated by georgina ferry

“Jenny Rohn is possibly the most socially engaged scientist I know. She runs a cell biology research lab at University College London, working on the understanding and treatment of urinary tract infections, which affect half of all women in their lifetimes. Important as it is, though, it was not Jenny’s science that made her the obvious choice for my Suffrage Science heirloom brooch. I received it for my work as an author from Brenda Maddox, who is herself an author. So I thought I should keep the communication theme going for this particular brooch, moving on from women who write books to a woman who explores science through the world of social media. Jenny does both. She has published two novels set in scientific contexts. She curates the website, which highlights examples of science in fiction. She blogs perceptively and humorously about her own scientific life at, and for the Guardian. If that were not enough, she is the chair of the grassroots campaign Science is Vital, lobbying for support for the science base in the UK, and has made frequent appearances on radio and TV. And she is the mum of a child just approaching his first birthday.” says Georgina Ferry, who’s passing on the heirloom.

“I have a very strong memory from when I was

ask why she thinks that is. ‘Family matters must

about ten years old, when a careers advisor

make a difference. It’s very difficult to compete

came to school,” says Jenny. “I said that I

with someone who has taken no time out.

was interested in science, and I was advised

The way we are assessed in academic science

to become a nurse. I wish I could say to that

involves how many papers we’ve published –

person now, “You had no right to tell me that.

that’s the number one metric. If you take time

Look what happened to me. I’m a successful

out to raise a family, rather than working late in

scientist. Healthcare isn’t the only outlet for a

the lab, you’re not going to be as productive as

woman who’s interested in science.” I always

a colleague who has no family. It’s a barefaced

kicked off against anyone who told me I couldn’t


be a scientist. But I can imagine another girl saying, “OK, I’d better become a nurse.””

And career breaks aren’t always taken into

A Barefaced Fact

says. “I’ve applied for jobs and found out that

account when scientists are assessed, she

In Jenny’s field of cell biology, at least half of

the reason I didn’t get shortlisted was simply

all undergraduates, PhD students and post-docs

because the number of papers I had didn’t stack

are women. Then numbers start to plummet. I

up due to my career break.”


I was once told early on in my career: “You’re a woman, I don’t think you’ll be as good a scientist as a male colleague.” But things have definitely got better during my lifetime. Jenny Rohn

A Holistic Approach

Imposter Syndrome She





One reason she believes it’s important to have more women in science is because they often take a more holistic approach to training than men, an approach she admires and tries to emulate herself. “I think having more women in power would make it a more human profession. Perhaps that would change some of the problems in the profession itself. Maybe if you diluted the macho culture by encouraging more family-friendly practices and, above all, transforming the career structure so that academic researchers of both genders can feel nurtured and secure, you might get some policy changes that would make the career structure better for everybody.”


psychological state when people feel they do not deserve what they have achieved, from which she suffers terribly. “It’s just a feeling that I’m not as good as my male colleagues. If I run into a guy who’s as old or experienced as I am, I think, “Wow! He’s a really important scientist.” But when I look at his record later I sometimes think, “I’m actually better than he is.” This is really common.” Has she been a victim of overt discrimination in her career? “I was once told early on in my career: “You’re a woman, I don’t think you’ll be as good a scientist as a male colleague.” But things have definitely got better during my lifetime. Initiatives like Athena SWAN have made a huge difference. Basically they have incentivised equality by prompting universities to up their game and treat women fairly.”

“When I was 12 years old I was

A Ruthless Career

scientist and the student body

But Jenny is wary about suggesting a scientific

gave me this ridiculous medal,

career to anyone. “Academia at the moment is

which was made out of fake-

an absolutely ruthless, terrible profession. It’s

bronze plastic. And with it in

voted most likely to become a

my hand, I thought for the first

completely dysfunctional. I’m always honest

time that my dream of being

and say it’s a great career, but it’s really hard

a scientist might actually be

and only four per cent will make it statistically. I


sometimes wonder if women might be just a bit too sensible and think, “You know what, I don’t

Jenny Rohn

have to do this. I can do something else.””


kate storey nominated by marysia placzek

When Kate was 13 years old, her science teacher showed her the lifecycle of a frog. She was amazed by the incredible changes that develop from a single cell. It seemed an extraordinary process, so reproducible, with each egg making a complete frog in the end. Biology and science made sense to her at an age when the world does not always make sense. Since then, according to Marysia Placzek, who’s passing on the heirloom, “Kate has made a series of seminal contributions to our understanding of developmental mechanisms. For twenty years her work has been a major influence to the field and a source of inspiration to many developmental and stem cell biologists.” Kate now heads the Division of Cell and Developmental Biology at the University of Dundee. Her work focuses on understanding how the spinal cord develops. Recently she has pioneered real-time imaging techniques that allow her to identify new cell biological and molecular mechanisms regulating the generation of neurons. “These beautiful studies attest further to her creativity and insightfulness,” adds Marysia. I ask Kate about the proportion of women

salary or acquiring more space. Those who are

and men where she works. “In the Division of

less confident, or whose style is not to make

Cell and Developmental Biology there are five

demands, tend to get overlooked.”

female and five male principal investigators.

But surely this is a problem for both men and

This is unusual for basic science departments

women? “I think rewards like this play to the

around the world and also in the University of

differences between the sexes to some extent.

Dundee College of Life Sciences, where women

Women are often more modest about what they

make up only 11 per cent of group leaders.”

do and how they perceive themselves; men are

Does she think the participation of women

more willing to put themselves forward.”

in science is improving? “Yes, but there are some mechanisms that could help to advance

Women Request Less Funding

the situation. For example, knowing how the

Some evidence supporting this came up when

promotion process works is important for

Kate attended the MRC’s Neuroscience and

career progression. Although guidelines are

Mental Health Board, where current statistics

in place in universities, the impression can

comparing men and women’s funding across

be that those who shout the loudest tend to

the MRC were presented. Although success

do better in being promoted, increasing their

rates for programme grants for men and


I don’t think there’s any strong opposition to change. It’s a matter of being more mindful of the decisions we make. Kate Storey

women were much the same, male applicants

Partnership Grants

bid for £86,000 or 14 per cent more funding

I ask Kate about her career path. Unusually, she worked part-time throughout her five post-doc years when her children were small. “My husband supported us as essentially my salary went entirely on childcare. But this arrangement kept me connected to research”. She could also do this because she had a supportive supervisor, Claudio Stern, with whom she wrote a grant that included a 50 per cent post-doc and a 50 per cent technician salary. “I designed and performed experiments and the technician processed the samples. This kind of partnership grant, which pairs a postdoc and a technician on a research project can help to maintain career progression during those crucial years when children are young.”

than females; and males secured £154,000 or 21 per cent more than females. “That was striking. For some reason women tend to ask for less.” Gender balance on decision-making bodies in the MRC is uneven, women usually make up 25 to 35 per cent of such groups and an extreme example is the MRC boards and panels where out of ten chairs, only one is female, suggesting that women, for whatever reason, are not engaging at the highest levels. Being More Mindful Regarding this stark gender imbalance, how can we go about changing that? “I don’t think there’s any strong opposition to change. A lot of what we do and the way we are culturally is almost unconscious. It’s a matter of being more mindful of the decisions we make, why we make them, why we appoint or promote

“Eggs inspire me. They are

people, who we encourage, and so on”.

such a fragile package for life. I have spent

I ask if women approach their science differently

many hours trying to

to men in other ways. “I’m not sure they do.

understand how one

Science is science. But in my experience,

cell can make a whole

women tend to bring some additional qualities


to the lab; they work particularly well in teams

Kate Storey

and are good at listening and at taking the long view.”


irene tracey nominated by emily holmes

During her undergraduate studies in Biochemistry at the University of Oxford, Irene became fascinated with the notion that you could probe biochemical mechanisms in living animals, including humans, noninvasively using rapidly developing technologies. She remained in Oxford for her DPhil as part of a group pioneering the use of Magnetic Resonance methods to study muscle and brain biochemistry before heading to Harvard Medical School in Boston for two years as a postdoctoral research fellow. It was there she began using the relatively new technique of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and was introduced to the field of pain research. She returned to the UK in 1996 and co-founded the Oxford Centre for Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Brain (FMRIB). In 2001 she became tenured at Oxford as a University lecturer and college tutorial fellow, and in 2005 she became the Director of FMRIB. She was awarded the title Professor of Pain Research followed by appointment to a Statutory Chair as Nuffield Professor of Anaesthetic Science in 2007. Emily Holmes, who’s passing on the heirloom, said, “I first met Irene in Oxford in 2007 and was instantly struck by her passion for science and keen support of other women in science. She has an outstanding reputation for creative, interdisciplinary science and for showing strong leadership. She is passionate about training future researchers and has facilitated people within her group and beyond to take important career steps in science. Irene has created a vibrant, exciting and supportive research culture for her group, and her enthusiasm for research is simply contagious and this undoubtedly contributes markedly to the group’s success.” Straight away, Irene says that she’s had a privileged journey to her current position because she’s had huge amounts of encouragement and support from colleagues and superb mentors – both male and female. “Also, I’ve been fortunate compared to most women in that throughout my early tenured life, two of the most senior female Professors and brilliant scientists at Oxford – Professor Dame Kay Davies and Professor Angela Vincent - happened to be heads of my department. That was highly unusual. It gave me the opportunity not only to benefit from their fantastic support and mentorship, but also to observe any differences between female and

male scientific leadership - if one can generalise about such things.” Changing Dynamics She says it’s interesting how the dynamics of a meeting often change when senior, vocal women are present – especially if a woman chairs the discussion.

‘When you have a more female

environment, it tends to become more relaxed yet without a loss of efficiency. There appears to be a less competitive tone. It’s more personal and perhaps that creates an atmosphere where people feel more comfortable expressing highrisk statements.’


We’ve got a whole generation of kids coming out who have really never thought about or experienced gender bias. And my goodness, they’re not prepared for it. Irene Tracey

Not Institutions Fault

attitudes of the work place. “We’ve got a whole generation of kids coming out who have really never thought about or experienced gender bias. And my goodness, they’re not prepared for it. I suspect they’re not going to take it lying down and so the pace of change will have to quicken.”

Are the science institutions at fault? “No. I firmly believe that we don’t have endemic chauvinism in our academic institutions – far from it in my experience. A broad set of factors contributes to women leaving science or progressing less quickly to professorships. A significant one is that at the stage when you’re developing your career, you might also be at your busiest in terms of child rearing or looking after dependent parents. Society tends to expect these roles to fall predominantly on women. If they can’t put themselves forward for various roles, they can rapidly become “invisible.””

Irene has observed that women rarely apply for awards, prizes and leadership roles compared to men. They seem to be less comfortable putting themselves forward for possible rejection. “It would be interesting to know why this is the case. It’s something we’ve got to work on with our girls and women: how to compete effectively, and to see competition and rejection as a normal part of the job.”

But it’s becoming increasingly acceptable to share such responsibilities between partners, which will help increase the pool of available women who can help shape the direction of our academic institutions. “Changing the laws and institutional attitudes so that couples can choose what’s best for them would open up a lot of changes. People would be surprised at how many men would want the opportunity,” she says.

“I work in pain and we use the active ingredient of chilli peppers a lot in our research, but I’m also obsessed with chilli-based spicy food – like

Generational Clash

everyone in my group – not that it’s a condition for

Admonished regularly by her strident daughter over the fact that her mother’s generation still even talk about the gender issue, Irene predicts a clash between the gender-blind younger generations and the more traditional

successful recruitment…” Irene Tracey


Xiaomeng (Mona) XU nominated by bianca acevedo

Dr Xiaomeng (Mona) Xu was born in Fuling, China, and immigrated to the United States when she was five. Shortly after, she conducted her first-ever scientific experiment. Her parents, in an attempt to familiarise her with American culture, told her the story of the tooth fairy. But Mona found this implausible, so implausible that when one of her baby teeth fell out, she slipped it under her pillow without uttering a word to anyone. It was still there the next day. Then she told her parents about the tooth and the following morning she found some coins in its place. Her conclusion: the tooth fairy couldn’t possibly exist. And since that early show of inquisitiveness, she has risen to her current position as Assistant Professor of Psychology at Idaho State University. Her research focuses on cardiovascular and behavioural health – such as weight control, smoking and physical activity – close relationships, especially romantic ones, and fMRI neuroimaging. She conducted the first study of non-Western people in romantic love using fMRI. She took fMRI scans of Chinese couples at the beginning of their relationship and 40 months after, and found neural correlates of relationship longevity and happiness. I ask Mona if she is optimistic that there will be more women leaders in science in the future. She is. “More and more people are talking about gender imbalance, and that has changed considerably during my lifetime. One fascinating recent development is the research being done on gender bias. It’s really important to be aware that biases exist and that they might exist in you - even if you’re a woman or a minority. Are you doing well partly because you are buying into a culture that causes prejudice against women? If so, how do you address that?”

greatly influenced her decision to work there. “It certainly is discouraging when you go to a place and there are no women in leadership positions. You start wondering why that might be. It’s important to have women in power, who are not just doing the job, but have really strong vision and think big.” But Mona says that women as a minority are likely to be more cautious. “That’s not great for science because you have a lot of people who hold back. Women as a minority are less likely to negotiate for things they need, to speak up, to take risks in their work. And certainly that

Personal Influence

caution is understandable, but it makes a lot of difference in terms of how things come out,

When Mona decided to take her current position at Idaho State University, the fact that the Psychology Department had a female chair and the college had a female dean

who applies for grants, awards and leadership positions – even if you think there’s no chance – and who ultimately gets them.”


Make paternity leave automatic. So that once you adopt a child or have a baby, everyone gets it and you have to opt out. Mona Xu

Paternal Leave

learning something by rote and trying to be the best memoriser. You’re wandering into the unknown. And you’re going to fail a lot, get rejected and struggle. It’s not pleasant, but it’s very fulfilling. If my contribution is to be able to point out that I was really dumb on some things and only found dead ends that other people don’t have to find anymore, that’s perfectly fine.”

So how can we address the issue that there are fewer women in leadership positions in science? “Make paternity leave automatic. So that once you adopt a child or have a baby, everyone gets it and you have to opt out, as opposed to having to dig up the paperwork or make a special request to get it in the first place. I would love to see a family-friendly culture where men feel it’s ok to take paternity leave – or where paternity leave is even offered.” She says that Caryl Rusbult, an experimental social psychologist at the VU University Amsterdam, who passed away in 2010, has been an enormous influence on her. “She’s contributed to the field of Social Psychology immensely, and she’s had a tremendous impact on the students she’s mentored. Even after she was diagnosed with terminal cancer, she kept her lab running and attended conferences and talks, especially by graduate students and young people, as if nothing was different. She was always really encouraging and excited to hear about new science.”

“This little stuffed sheep – Quantum Sheep – was the senior mascot for my class in high school.

Whenever I feel down, I look at

Quantum Sheep and think: ‘This is how I felt all through school. Even working my hardest I could barely keep up. But I survived it and got the chance to be





to be challenged at every turn, to feel stupid.”

Longing to Feel Stupid Mona Xu

One thing that has driven Mona in her career is the opportunity to feel stupid. “The reason why you go into science is to get the opportunity to feel really stupid, and then learn something. It’s a wonderful feeling. You’re not


Ele Zeggini nominated by sarah teichmann

When Eleftheria Zeggini was growing up in the Greek town of Volos, she always knew that she wanted to do biological research. This desire motivated her to leave her native Greece to study biochemistry at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST). Ele’s research focuses on genetic analyses of common diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and osteoarthritis, and human traits like body mass index and blood lipids. Through large-scale surveys of genetic variation in sub-Saharan Africa, the UK, and isolated populations in Europe, she has contributed to the discovery of hundreds of risk loci, improving our understanding of disease aetiology. She has received several Excellence Awards and attained a Wellcome Trust Research Career Development Fellowship in 2006. She joined the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute (WTSI) in 2008, where she is one of four women research group leaders out of about 34. She was recently recognised by a European award scheme for outstanding researchers (ERC) and was appointed Honorary Professor by the University of Leicester in 2013. She is pioneering change at the WTSI and European Bioinformatics Institute to bring the issue of women in science to the fore through her programme – Sex in Science. ‘The idea of Sex in Science is to raise awareness,

Carers’ Grant

challenge preconceptions, generate discussion

The programme’s new policy changes include the recently launched Sanger Institute Fellowship. Uniquely, this post-doctoral, threeyear fellowship is aimed at researchers who have had a career break of one year or more.

about issues facing women in science, and to drive policy change. We have been very active in introducing new policies and practices within the Sanger Institute,’ she says.

The institute has also created a Carers’ Grant, which covers the cost of care work for researchers who are travelling for work, and an onsite workplace nursery. ‘Nursery fees are very expensive. For an early career scientist with two children under the age of five, financially it’s almost not worth coming back to work. We’re trying to address that.’

Sex in Science, that’s a catchy name. ‘Yes, we held our first couple of events three years ago as Women in Science, and 95 per cent of the audience were women. So we rebranded with the bolder Sex in Science title, and were successful in attracting more men to our events. Since then we’ve held an event every six weeks. These include talks by invited speakers, workshops, career days, debates, work-life

Ele understands just how important it is to balance work and personal life, and to have a

balance discussions and a theatrical play.’


After having my first child I learnt how to delegate, how to say ‘no’ and how to prioritise better. Ele Zeggini

or two deputies who can run individual projects with very minimal input from the group leader.’

supportive partner. She talks about her first maternity leave as one of the most “interesting” periods of her career. ‘On my first day at the Sanger Institute I was 20-weeks pregnant. I moved from Oxford to Cambridge midway through my pregnancy. I was building up my group, hiring, moving job, moving house, buying a house, and having a baby all during the same period of time.’

‘And importantly, don’t worry about projects getting delayed. It’s not the end of the world.’ Changing Priorities Since having two children, Ele’s priorities have changed. ‘I used to work all hours of the day and night. But after having my first child I learnt how to delegate, how to say ‘no’ and how to prioritise better. Now I’m happy to say that I shut down my computer at the end of the working day, which is bound by opening and closing times at nursery and school – and I don’t routinely bring my laptop home with me.’

Challenges of Maternity Leave When on maternity leave, she found herself leading her new team remotely. ‘I had four people in the group and was still hiring. At some point I was conducting a phone interview while changing my five-week-old baby’s diaper, which makes for an enjoyable anecdote –as do loud baby noises during teleconferences. The challenging aspect of going on maternity leave so soon after joining a new institute was the lag time in understanding the organisational structure, which can speed up administrative tasks. My second maternity leave was a breeze.’




stressed I am about work, it’s play or cuddle time with my children that completely wipes it all clean for me and gives me the energy to keep

Does Ele have any tips for young mothers in a similarly challenging position? ‘My pearl of wisdom would be: get help. Had I known I could get cover for myself, I would have hired a research administrator. I would also introduce structure into the group so that there are one

going.” Ele Zeggini


heirloom carriers 2012-2014

Bianca Acevedo is Senior Research Scientist at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. She received her degree in Psychology (magna cum laude) at New York University in 2000, and completed a PhD in Psychology at Stony Brook University, New York in 2008. Bianca became a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, University of California and Weill Cornell Medical College from 2008 to 2013. She worked as a Research Scientist and Instructor at the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences, University of California, Santa Barbara, from 2012 to 2013. Bianca received an International Woman in Science Award in 2012.

Tracey Barrett is Senior Lecturer in Structural Biology at the School of Crystallography, Birkbeck College, University of London. She read Molecular Biophysics at the University of Leeds before completing a DPhil in Chemistry from the University of York. From 1995 to 1998 she was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at MRC National Institute for Medical Research and University College London. She was awarded a BBSRC David Phillips Career Development Research Fellow from 1998 to 2003.

Georgina Ferry is a science writer, author and broadcaster based in Oxford. Inspired by the life and career of Britain’s only female Nobel prizewinning scientist, she wrote the biography Dorothy Hodgkin: A Life (1998; reissued by Bloomsbury Reader, 2014). Three further books, including a biography of the Nobel prizewinner Max Perutz, have since appeared, and she wrote and produced a play, Hidden Glory, to mark Hodgkin’s centenary in 2010. Georgina edited the Oxford University alumni magazine, Oxford Today, from 2000-2007, and is deputy chair of the trustees of Science Oxford. She has two grown-up sons.

Edith Heard is Director of the Genetics and Developmental Biology Department at the Institut Curie, Paris, and Chair of Epigenetics and Cellular Memory at the Collège de France. She received a Natural Sciences degree from Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge, in 1986, and completed her PhD in Cancer Research at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund Laboratory, London, in 1990. She was elected EMBO membership in 2005, and was awarded the Prix Jean Hamburger in 2009 and the Grand Prix de la FRM in 2011. Edith was made Fellow of the Royal Society in 2013, noted for studies of X chromosome inactivation.


Emily Holmes is a practising clinical and experimental psychologist, programme leader at the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit in Cambridge, Guest Professor at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden and Visiting Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Oxford. After receiving a degree in Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford in 1993, Emily completed an MA in Social Sciences at Uppsala University in Sweden. She did a doctorate in Clinical Psychology at the Royal Holloway, University of London, from 1997 to 2000. She completed a PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience at the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, Cambridge, from 2002 to 2005. She has received numerous awards, most recently the American Psychological Association award for distinguished early career contributions to psychology (2014). Her daughter is age five. Dame Louise Johnson read Physics at University College London before completing a PhD in Biophysics at the Royal Institution in 1965. The following year, she moved to work as postdoctoral researcher at Yale and then took up post as departmental demonstrator in the Department of Zoology at Oxford University. Louise was appointed University Lecturer and Fellow of Somerville College, Oxford University, in 1973, and David Phillips Professor in Molecular Biophysics at the University of Oxford from 1990 to 2007. She became Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Professorial Fellow at Corpus Christ College in 1991. From 2008 to 2012 she was Emeritus Fellow Corpus Christi College, Oxford University. She was awarded a DBE, becoming a Dame of the British Empire, in 2003. Louise died in 2012.


heirloom carriers 2012-2014

Elizabeth Murchison is Reader in Comparative Oncology and Genetics at the University of Cambridge’s Department of Veterinary Medicine, which she joined in 2013. Elizabeth grew up in Tasmania, Australia, and studied Biomedical Science at the University of Melbourne. She moved to New York to do her PhD at Cold Spring Harbour Laboratory in 2007, and returned to Australia the following year for postdoctoral studies at the Australian National University. From 2009 to 2013 Elizabeth took up an Australian government fellowship at the Cancer Genetics and Genomics Group at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, UK. She was awarded L’Oréal-UNESCO UK and Ireland For Women In Science Fellowship in 2009, the Eppendorf Award for Young Investigators in 2012 and the Genetics Society Balfour Lecture in 2014.

Marysia Placzek is Professor in Developmental Neurobiology and Director of the Bateson Centre at the University of Sheffield. She graduated in Molecular Biology at Edinburgh University in 1982, and went on to complete a PhD on mammary tumour development at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund, London (CRUK). She then undertook postdoctoral training in Developmental Neurobiology at Columbia University, New York, and in 1992 set up an independent lab at the National Institute for Medical Research, London. In 1997, she moved to the Department of Biomedical Science at the University of Sheffield, where she was appointed Chair of Developmental Neurobiology laboratory in 1999. In 2007, she was made Deputy of the MRC Centre for Developmental and Biomedical Genetics, was Acting Director from 2009 to 2013.

Christiana Ruhrberg is Professor of Neuronal and Vascular Biology at the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, University College London. She received her Diploma, Justus-Liebig-Universitat Giessen, Germany, in 1992, and won Young Cell Biologist of the Year from the British Society for Cell Biology in 1996. Christiana received a PhD in Biochemistry at the Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine in 1997. She received a Werner-Risau-Prize for outstanding contributions to endothelial cell biology, German Society for Cell Biology in 2003, and an MRC Career Development Award from 2003 to 2007. Christiana was appointed Lecturer at University College London in 2007, Reader the following year, and Professor of Neuronal and Vascular Biology in 2011. That year she received a Junior Investigator Award, Wellcome Trust.


Nicole Soranzo is Group Leader in Human Genetics at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and Principal of Research at the Haematology Department, University of Cambridge Nicole graduated in Biological Sciences at the University of Milan, Italy, and conducted her PhD in Genetics, focusing on population and evolutionary genetics, at the University of Dundee. She completed her postdoctoral training in human population and statistical genetics at University College London and joined the Pharmacogenomics Department at Johnson and Johnson Pharmaceutical Research and Development in the US in 2005. Since 2007, she has been at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and began leading her own team in 2009.

Sarah Teichmann is Joint Group Leader at the EMBL-European Bioinformatics Institute and Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. Since 2005, she has been a Fellow and Director of Studies at Trinity College, University of Cambridge. In 2013, she was appointed Principle Research Associate of the Department of Physics and the Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge. Sarah completed her PhD at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in 2000 and was awarded a Beit Memorial Fellowship University College London from 2000 to 2001. She was Trinity College Junior Research Fellow from 1999 to 2005 and MRC Programme Leader at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology from 2001 to 2013. In 2012, Sarah was elected to EMBO membership. She has received numerous awards, most recently the Michael & Kate Baranyi Award 2014.


Produced by the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre Design - Emma Bornebroek Text - Nick Kennedy Text Editor - Almut Caspary Artist Sketches - Fiona Perkins In addition to all of the women scientists who contributed to this publication, we would like to thank: Professor Amanda Fisher (Director, MRC Clinical Sciences Centre), who inspired all aspects of this project to commemorate women in science; Vivienne Parry for conceiving of science heirlooms (jewellery); L’OrÊal UK & Ireland for their support of the project; BA design students Benita Gikaite and Anya Malhotra from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design for creating Jewellery designs; Martin Baker for making the jewellery



celebrating leading women in the life sciences