Launched by water@leeds, in partnership with Athena Swan teams at the University, the Water Woman Award is now in its second year and aims to recognise the achievements of women in research their power to inspire others.
By rewarding achievements by women whose work contributes to the objectives of water@leeds in securing competitive research funds, producing world-class research or achieving significant societal impact, the Water Woman Award shines a light on their efforts in an academic world in which the hurdles are still greater for females.
The award is based on two equally weighted criteria: the nature of the achievement plus its potential for empowering and inspiring other women into following their example. Water Woman places a particular emphasis to recognize the value of female researchers across all disciplines and including those in supporting roles.
It is open to any colleagues at Leeds identifying as women and contributing to water@leeds missions.
Nominations were received across all categories, which this year also included an Early Career Researcher category. The Water Woman Award Panel has been overwhelmed by the inspiring power of all applications. Panel Chair, Professor Julia Martin-Ortega, said:
'Particularly interesting this year is how many nominations have made by male academics in recognition of their female colleagues as well as the number of applications on the category of research support. I believe these are signs of an increasingly wider spread awareness of the value and importance of women’s contribution to science in multiple aspects. Like last year, we not only have amazing winners, but also a great pool of inspiring candidates that we hope to engage in empowering and supporting other women'.
The Water Woman Award Winners 2021
Water Woman Award for Research Excellence
- Dr Juliane Schwendike, Lecturer in Meteorology, School of Earth and Environment
‘Juliane’s research group and collaborators are publishing scientific papers improving our understanding and forecasting of tropical cyclone intensification, including studies of the physics of cyclones, and studies analysing the performance of forecasting systems. The results have an impact on the skill of future cyclone forecasts, which can potentially help protect the lives and livelihoods of millions of people. Juliane’s work is inspiring because of its international basis. Juliane works with colleagues around the world, to solve challenges which affect everyone on the planet. ‘ Prof. Doug Parker, who nominated Juliane for the award.
Water Woman Award for Research Funding
- Dr Yim Ling Siu, Lecturer in Environmental Risk Management, School of Earth and Environment.
‘I have learnt a lot over the past years and have been inspired by other people, especially female colleagues, who have been struggling in a similar situation for not giving up hope and passion. I think I can now set an example for others and I firmly believe that successful people keep moving; they make mistakes, but they never quit. I do not want to quit and I do not quit even though it may take a long time to reach my goal.’
Water Woman Award for Societal Impact
- Dr Janet Richardson, Impact Translation Fellow, iCASP.
‘I think my career pathway and different ways of working across disciplines, departments and with stakeholders is inspirational to women at different career stages – especially as impact is increased on the universities agenda. I think others can learn from me how to translate research, how relationships are key and that knowledge exchange is a two way approach.’
Water Woman Award for Research Support
- Helena Brown, Lead Technician for Sorby Environmental Fluid Dynamics Laboratory
‘My placement at the Royal Institution Lectures is a proud moment and career highlight. The RI are proud to support technicians, especially given that Faraday started his scientific career as one. The placement has raised my profile, and as such the profile of female technicians, more than anything else I’ve ever achieved.’
Water Woman Award for Early Career Research (split award)
- Dr Laura Carter, Academic Fellow in Soil Science, School of Geography
‘Being a young researcher has created opportunities, such as access to early career awards, but this has also presented difficulties. At meetings I have often been ignored by more senior academics because of my age and gender. I persevered in talking to as many people as possible, highlighting my skills and expertise and was subsequently invited to join a proposal as Co-Investigator.’
- Dr Beth Woodhams, Research Fellow, School of Earth and Environment
‘ I have been lucky enough to be inspired by women in the academic generation above me. I feel especially privileged that two thirds of my PhD supervisors were women, both of whom are rising stars in their careers and have always encouraged me. One can look at the existing professors and feel disheartened at the number of white males, but I am inspired every day by the fact that the upcoming fellowship holders and associate professors in my department are predominantly female and I look forward to a more diverse future.’
Special Commendations (for their stories, which serve to inspire and empower many others)
- Professor Alison M Dunn, Professor of Ecology, School of Biology.
‘My research is strongly collaborative; I work with colleagues including academic staff, stakeholders, students and volunteers in research and environment management. I am proud that this work has developed links with a range of researchers, research support staff, impact staff and stakeholder partners, the majority of which were female. I am proud that I have helped to supervise and mentor undergradate and postgradgraduate students, and research and innovation staff who have gone on to the first steps in their STEM careers.’
- Alesia Ofori Dedaa, Postgraduate Researcher, School of Politics and International Studies.
‘What I think that all of us can take from Alesia’s example is her willingness to have a go. Even when she faces a difficult situation, is not confident or doesn’t know what to do…….yet she will come up with a plan, she will think carefully, seek advice and take initiative. She is ready to seek and receive feedback and with that she continues to grow.’ Prof Anna Mdee who nominated Alesia.
All winners and applicants will be invited to co-design an inspirational programme.
water@leeds would like to thank all applicants and all those involved in making the awards possible, as well as all of those that have helped communicate about the scheme.
Panel members were:
- Professor Julia Martin-Ortega (Associate Director, water@leeds, Panel Chair)
- Professor Clare Woulds (Athena SWAN team leader for the Faculty of Environment)
- Dr Gabriela Lopez-Gonzalez (water@leeds coordinator)
- Karen Tsui (women@leeds network)