Uniting the Women of Science and Engineering

Three University of Leeds academics have been honoured with a Medical Research Council (MRC) Suffrage Award.

Professor Anne Neville (School of Mechanical Engineering), Professor Ruth Wilcox (Institute of Medical & Biological Engineering) and Dr Lorna Dougan (School of Physics and Astronomy) have all been selected by current MRC Suffrage Award holders as outstanding researchers in science and engineering.

As part of the award, the winners receive jewellery, either a brooch or pendant, which is passed down from one generation of leading female scientists to the next.

The heirlooms were hand-crafted and designed by Central Saint Martins college of art and design, and is inspired by the jewellery awarded to women of the Suffrage movement in recognition of their campaign for equal voting rights.

Professor Neville was nominated for the Award by Dame Julia Higgins, Professor of Polymer Science at Imperial College.

Professor Higgins said: “I chose to pass my jewellery to Anne because I have been constantly amazed by her innovative science. She draws inspiration from the natural world to provide engineering solutions to a wide range of problems ranging from the oil industry to medicine.”

Fellow Leeds academic and previous holder of the Award, Professor Eileen Ingham, nominated Professor Wilcox. Professor Ingham said: "Ruth leads a large group of both theoretical and experimental researchers and has a passion for cross-disciplinary working. Her high intellect, vitality and enthusiasm for research together with her straightforward, considerate nature is an inspiration to all those who work with her."

Dr Lorna Dougan was nominated for the Award by Professor Dame Athene Donald, DBE, FRS, Professor of Experimental Physics at the University of Cambridge. Professor Donald said: "Lorna is a deep thinker with a hugely positive attitude towards her science - and others working around her". 

Suffrage Science 2015 is an MRC-funded event that celebrates the achievements of women in engineering and the physical sciences. In 2017, the heirlooms will be passed on again in a bid to encourage more women to pursue leadership roles in the life sciences.

The academics received their award and the heirlooms in a ceremony on Sunday 8 March, which was International Women’s Day.