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Water Woman Award Winners 2023

Water Woman

We are delighted to announce the Water Woman Award Winners for 2023 to mark International Women's Day on Wednesday 8 March 2023.

The water@leeds Water Woman Award was launched in 2020 in collaboration with Athena Swan teams to recognize the achievements of women in research, and 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 aims at highlighting their efforts in an academic world in which the hurdles are still greater for women.

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 on recognising the value of women researchers across all disciplines, including those in supporting roles.

Inspiring Power

Panel chair and founder of the awards Professor Julia Martin Ortega said:

“After this third edition, we now feel that the Water Woman Award has consolidated as a clear feature of institutional recognition of the value of our women researchers. We were honoured to receive the First Prize in the Personal Development, Reward, and Recognition  category in the University’s inaugural Research Culture and Engaged for Impact Awards, which continues to inspire us.

We encourage all members of the University to get curious about what their excellent women colleagues have to say about the research they develop and support and to champion a more inclusive and nurturing environment for all.

The co-chairs of Women at Leeds Network who helped judge the awards added:

'The Water Women Award provides a brilliant platform to showcase the amazing contribution and achievement of our hardworking, talented colleagues.  We are surrounded by inspirational colleagues who deserve to be recognised and celebrated as role models''.

Posthumous Award

This year we also make a posthumous award to recognise the inspiring lifetime contribution of Dr Fiona Zakaria.

Fiona, who died last December, was a rising star of public health engineering research. She was an active part of the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) research group at Leeds during the past five years, working extensively to develop new approaches to costing of urban sanitation, while also helping to launch ground-breaking research on methane emissions. Professor Barbara Evans said:

“She was a team player and an embodiment of the values of inclusivity, equity and partnership of water@leeds.”  Full tribute here

Water Woman Award for Research Excellence

Professor Amanda Maycock Professor in Climate Dynamics, School of Earth and Environment,  Director of the Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science (ICAS)

Dr. Juliane Schwendike, Associate Professor in Meteorology nominated Amanda for the award. She said:

''Amanda is an internationally recognised expert in climate dynamics, climate modelling and midlatitude dynamics with many highly cited papers in these topics. The roles that Amanda holds in internationally acclaimed organisations like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the World Climate Research Programme are evidence of the outstanding work Amanda does and how invested she is to contribute to the global climate change community.

Amanda inspires others by being a role model for women in mathematical sciences, particularly through leading the Institute for Climate and Atmospheric Science. Witnessing how she creates a supportive environment for her staff is inspiring leadership. The level of scientific achievements Amanda has reached in the last 5 years is truly outstanding.''

Water Woman Award for Funding Excellence

Dr. Anna Hogg, Associate Professor, School of Earth and Environment, co-director of the NERC SENSE Earth Observation Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT).

Anna was awarded for the high level of her funding achievements and how her work has influenced and driven EDI practice.  Anna said:

''Satellite observations have revolutionised our ability to monitor environmental change on Earth. The talented and happy group of 70 Earth observation PhD students recruited through SENSE will be ideally placed to make the exciting science discoveries of the future. I am very proud that it will be a defining element of my academic career to have enabled the scientific careers of the next generation of experts.''

Water Woman Award for Research Support 

Sarah Hunt, Research & Facilities Support Technician, School of Geography

The panel was impressed by Sarah’s commitment to research support and her essential work on a range of projects, which often goes unseen. Sarah said:

''I feel that I have been integral in the data collection of water research projects, and that I am regarded as essential by the researchers involved. My knowledge wouldn’t have been gained without them, and my willingness to learn new skills and ways of working. I have worked at the school for 10 years and I have enjoyed my role as it has allowed me to work on a varied range of different projects."

Water Woman Award for Early Career              

Dr Josie South , Lecturer, School of Biology

Josie was honoured for her research excellence at this early stage of her career, along with her leadership skills and work across cultures and languages.

Josie said: “Working well with people, enabling full participation of a team and valuing contributions of each team member is the biggest lesson I’ve learnt, and would be the main thing I would recommend to any young woman researcher.  Much of this was only possible because I had been empowered and given opportunities by my mentor, Professor Olaf Weyl of the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity, which gave me the confidence and experience to be able to be a leader in a manner that I’m proud of.”

Water Woman Award for Societal Impact/Knowledge Transfer

Addi Manolopoulou, Finance & Accounting Department Manager (LUBS)

Addi created a 10-day-long paddling adventure with her daughter, Athina, to highlight the issue of invasive non-native species (INNS). She used her social media as a platform to provide updates and help share the latest INNS research. Addi said:

“I possess no superpowers – creative thinking and creative solutions are key to making things happen. ‘Collaboration’ and ‘networking’ are some of my favourite words. I encourage other women to put themselves out there, begin a conversation about their research and dream big because if I can, so can any other woman out there.”

Special Commendations for their stories, which serve to inspire and empower others

Dr Paula Novo,  Lecturer in Ecological Economics, School of Earth and Environment

Paula was rewarded for her innovative approach of combining art and the feminist culture of work to environmental science. Paula said:

“By widening the range of methods we consider, we can also widen the range of voices included, and this is key if we want our research to contribute to building a more inclusive society and future.”

Dr Megan Klaar, Associate Professor, School of Geography

Megan was nominated by Dr Nir Arielli, Associate Professor of International History, who said:

“One of the greatest obstacles to interdisciplinary research is the inability of researchers from different academic backgrounds to ‘speak the same language’ and therefore to fully understand how different types of knowledge can complement one another.

“Megan’s willingness to spend time with colleagues who don’t have a scientific background, to carefully and respectfully explain the principles of her field, and to answer what must have been very trivial questions, is commendable.”

Panel Members

Professor Julia Martin Ortega, School of Earth and Environment. Associate Director water@leeds, founder of the Water Woman Award

Dr Laura Carter, Associate Professor in Soil and Environmental Chemistry, School of Geography, Water Woman Award winner 2021

Dr Tao Jiang, Associate Professor in Marketing, Leeds University Business School,   Co-Chair: Women At Leeds Network 

Sarah Budello, Digital Practice Advisor, OD&PL, Co-Chair: Women At Leeds Network, Creator: Pregnancy Support Hub 

Ann Marie Boyle, Administrator water@leeds

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 the scheme.