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2018 'Going to the Ends of the Earth as a Woman in Science'

Professor Dame Jane Francis will talk about her life and work as a woman in science, both the triumphs and the challenges. Jane is a geologist by training, specialising in the reconstruction of environments on Earth millions of years ago.


Her research interests include ancient climates and fossil plants, particularly of the Polar Regions, the regions on Earth most sensitive to climate change. Her research has led to many adventures in the awesome polar landscapes of the Arctic and Antarctica.


Jane was Dean of the Faculty of Environment at the University of Leeds, is currently the first woman Director of the British Antarctic Survey, and is involved in the organisation of the international Antarctic Treaty.


2017 'Seizing Challenges and Doing Things Differently'

The 2017 Annual WiSETI lecture had a last minute change to the programme.  Unfortunately, our scheduled speaker, Professor Julia Slingo was unable to attend due to personal reasons.
Stepping into the breech was Professor Dame Athene Donald, Dr Emily Shuckburgh and Dr Simon Bittleston who led a fascinating discussion looking at the challenges, opportunities and differences women bring to and face in the world of science.

2016 'Do You Have to be a Genius to be an Astrophysicist?'

The 2016 Annual WiSETI Lecture featured Professor Meg Urry the Director of the Yale Center for Astronomy & Astronomical Society.
Meg shared insights on her advocacy for womenin science in the U.S. alongside her research on supermassive black holes and galaxies.


2015 'The Mobile Revolution: From M-Health to M-Powering Women'

The 2015 Annual WiSETI Lecture was given by Professor Rachel McKendry.
Professor McKendry will address the challenges for women in science. She will also talk about her research, which lies at the cutting edge of nanotechnology, telecommunication, big data and infectious diseases.


2014 ‘Growing organs and other small challenges’

The 14th Annual WiSETI lecture took place on the 12th March 2014 with over 160 attendees on the night. The lecture ‘Growing organs and other small challenges’ was given by Professor Molly Stevens from Imperial College, London. Molly, Professor of Biomedical Materials and Regenerative Medicine, was an inspiring speaker, striking the perfect balance between showcasing her cutting-edge research with personal experiences of combining work and family, a challenge recognised by many women in science.

It was heartening to see so many young women scientists in the audience and the friendly atmosphere was appreciated by many who enjoyed the chance to network both before and after the lecture. Molly highlighted a number of exciting key projects undertaken by a large interdisciplinary research group of scientists, surgeons and engineers.

From the generation of new bone to biosensors using nanotechnology, Molly presented her research in an exciting and accessible way for a mixed audience from within and outside the University as part of the 2014 record breaking Cambridge Science Festival.

Earlier in the day, Molly had lunch with around 20 early career researchers from across the University who had been nominated by their department. ‘In conversation with Molly Stevens’ provided an informal opportunity for discussions about career development and the participants really appreciated Molly’s candour and honesty in sharing her personal stories of her career journey and keeping in touch with her research group whilst on maternity leave.


2013 "My Mum's a Scientist": thinking about young children and science

The 2013 Annual Lecture was given by Professor Francesca Happé, Director of the Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry (SGDP) Centre at the Institute of Psychiatry (King's College London) entitled: "My Mum's a Scientist": thinking about young children and science. Professor Happé, a mother of three, provided fascinating insights into autism spectrum disorders as well as the challenges in engaging children of both sexes with science. The lecture had the highest and most diverse attendances for any WiSETI lecture and Professor Happé found the perfect balance for such a mixed audience, including parents of children with Asperger syndrome who appreciated her positive reflections on the unique contributions that can be made by those within the autism spectrum.

A lunchtime event with the speaker 'In conversation with Francesca Happé' provided a more informal opportunity for women early career researchers to chat with Francesca about career development and the challenges of balancing motherhood with a successful academic career. The event was hosted by Professor Claire Hughes from the Department of Psychology.

Professor Happé’s research interests centre on autism and Asperger Syndrome. She won the Telegraph's Young Science Writer award, and has taken part in many documentaries, as well as being the subject of a Channel 4 programme for schools. She was a Royal Institution ‘Scientists for the New Century’ Lecturer, and has received a number of awards including the British Psychological Society Spearman Medal and the 2011 Royal Society's Rosalind Franklin Award.

2012 'Finding the Right Balance'

The 2012 speaker was Carol Robinson, FRS, Royal Society Research Professor and Dr Lee's Professor of Chemistry at the Physical and Theoretical Chemistry Laboratory, University of Oxford. Professor Robinson, a distinguished British chemist, was previously Professor of Mass Spectrometry at the Department of Chemistry of the University of Cambridge. She left school at 16 to be a lab technician at Pfizer where she studied part time for both A-levels and her degree and took an eight-year career break to have three children after completing her PhD at Cambridge. In 2004 she was the recipient of the Royal Society Rosalind Franklin Award and the 2011 FEBS/EMBO Women in Science Award which recognised her pioneering work in the development of mass spectrometry as a tool used for investigating the structure and dynamics of protein complexes and also for her support and mentoring of women pursuing careers in science.

2011 ‘Thinking in Two Languages: My Adventures in Science and Literature’

This lecture was given by Professor Sunetra Gupta, Professor of Theoretical Epidemiology in the Department of Zoology at the University of Oxford. As well as being a successful scientist whose work focuses on the evolution of diversity in pathogens, Professor Gupta is also an acclaimed novelist. She was awarded the Rosalind Franklin Award from the Royal Society in 2009.

2010 ‘From short cracks to glass ceilings, or an engineer in wonderland’

Professor Julia King has had a fantastically diverse career, after sixteen years as an academic researcher and university lecturer at Cambridge and Nottingham universities, she joined Rolls-Royce plc in 1994. At Rolls-Royce she held a number of senior executive appointments, including Director of Advanced Engineering for the Industrial Power Group, Managing Director of the Fan Systems Business, and Engineering Director for the Marine Business. In 2002 Julia became Chief Executive of the Institute of Physics, and in 2004 she returned to academia as Principal of the Engineering Faculty at Imperial College, London. In December 2006 she became Vice-Chancellor of Aston University.

2009 ‘My life in neuroscience’

This lecture was given by Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, FRS, FMedSci, MRC Research Professor and Vice President for Research, University of Manchester.

2008 ‘My life among quarks’

The lecture was given by Professor Christine T. H. Davies, MA, PhD, CPhys, FInstP, FRSE, Professor of Physics and Research Group Leader of the Particle Physics Theory Group in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Glasgow.

2007 ‘Towards a science of the web: the power of networks’

The lecture was given by Professor Wendy Hall, Professor of Computer Science at the University of Southampton.

2006 ‘My life in functional genetics’

The lecture was given by Professor Kay E. Davies, MA, DPhil, FRC Path, FMed Scie, CBE, FRS, Dr Lee's Professor of Anatomy and Head of Department, Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics, University of Oxford. Honorary Director and Co-Director, MRC Functional Genetics Unit.

2005 ‘Why engage with the public?’

The lecture was given by Professor Kathy Sykes, Collier Chair of Public Engagement in Science and Engineering, University of Bristol. In her talk, Professor Sykes told the audience that scientists, in fact all academics, need to get better at engaging with the public to inspire the next generation, sharing the beauty of the subjects they study and to help society make wiser choices about issues around science affecting all our lives. But most importantly, scientists need to inform the debate, to actively listen and understand the problems concerned in order to try and broaden their views and make wider choices.

2004 ‘The biggest splash’

The speaker was Professor Julia Goodfellow CBE, Chief Executive of Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). In her talk, Professor Goodfellow covered a range of topics relevant to the roles that women play in science. She spoke about her own career path and research interests, trends in modern biology, gender differences in University choices and careers, and the historical and sociological perceptions of women who engage in scientific endeavour. Professor Goodfellow's talk was reported in the Times Higher, on 4th June, 2004.

2003 ‘How on Earth did I get here?’

The second lecture was given by Professor Dame Julia Higgins, DBE, FRS, FREng, Foreign Secretary of the Royal Society, Professor of Polymer Science in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Imperial College of Science, Technology, and Medicine, (London). Professor Higgins talked about her life and work in Engineering and Science, making references to her current research.

2002 ‘When I grow up I want to be an astronaut’

The first lecture was delivered by the NASA astronaut, Dr Bonnie Dunbar. In her talk, Dr Dunbar spoke of what it is like to be an astronaut and how this childhood dream can become a reality. She also encouraged the girls in the audience to consider a career in science, proving by example that it is not just a job for boys.