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Water Woman Award Winners 2020

Water Woman Award for Research Excellence (split award)

  • Professor Lorna Dougan, Professor of Physics, School of Physics and Astronomy. In recognition of a career of excellent achievements and commitment to support the next generations.

'I've had some wonderful opportunities to share the excitement and importance of scientific research, particularly with young people and their families. Their curiosity about the world is infectious.'  Professor Lorna Dougan



  • Dr Tracy Aze, Associate Professor in Marine Micropalaeontology, School of Earth and Environment. In recognition of excellent research achievements and the inspiring power of her personal pathway.

'I think it is important that we give visibility to women like me who have managed to secure permanent faculty positions whist single parenting, so that we can better inspire other women who are considering leaving academia as the challenge of balancing parenting and a full time faculty position can seem insurmountable. It’ll require perseverance for sure, but it is achievable!'  Dr Tracy Aze 


Water Woman Award for Research Funding (split award)

  • Dr Cathryn Birch, Associate Professor in Meteorology and Climate, School of Earth and Environment. In recognition of superb funding achievements that expose the value of collaborative research

'A supportive working environment is something I strive to create within my group. I don’t think that being overly competitive, pressurising or ruthless is the best route in the long term.' Dr Cathryn Birch



  • Professor Pippa Chapman, Chair in Biogeochemistry, School of Geography. In recognition of a career of funding success full of inspiring lessons for others.

'Lesson 1 - be persistent and never give up; keep telling the same message at conferences, workshops, and meetings....Lesson 2 – don’t underestimate the time needed to build strong relationships with partners, end users and stakeholder communities...Lesson 3 – Benefits of building strong relationship can pay off and deliver significant impact.' Professor Pippa Chapman


Water Woman Award for Societal Impact

  • Professor Anna Mdee, Professor in the Politics of Global Development, School of Politics and International Studies. In recognition of true and transferable impact.

'My career has been driven by passion: from the naïve energy of the nineteen-year-old who wanted to change the world to the rougher and more complicated resolution of longer experience.  An academic career happened along the way, and I would not have produced this recent research without a deep commitment to building long term academic and institutional relationships in Tanzania.' Professor Anna Mdee


Water Woman Award for Research Support

  • Dr Pazit Ziv, Doctoral Research and Training Centre Manager water@leeds; EuroFLOW ITN research coordinator; Research Impact Manager, School of Geography.  In recognition of her role in supporting and managing research projects

'Despite her not holding an academic role, Pazit provided multiple critical reviews of the application text which helped to improve the work hugely. Her work is to a very high standard which ensures that water@leeds’ good reputation is upheld in view of multiple external (and influential) groups of people.'  Nominee, Professor Lee Brown


Special Commendations for their stories which serve to inspire many others.

  • Dr Paola Sakai, UKRI Research and Innovation Fellow, School of Earth and Environment.

'One tough day my inner self finally emerged and gave me strength. I decided to accept that I will never recover and took the decision to learn to be happy with what I have. … I still have bad days … but even so, I have been able not only to bounce back in academia but bounce forward by securing significant research funding. The journey has not been easy. The level of competition in academia and the system’s flaws have mined my self-esteem. But I have learned that one always has the choice to change your circumstances and achieve great things.' Dr Paola Sakai

  • Dr Salma Al Arefi, The Institute of Communication and Power Networks, School of Electronic and Electrical Engineering.

'As an early career disabled young woman, from minority ethnic group, I am proud of my modest academic achievements and honoured to be among the very few female engineers who have had the privilege to showcase their research at prestigious event such that STEM for Britain.. … self-reflection and peer-mentoring have always had an impact on my academic and professional development. I treasure the supportive relationship I have established with my former academics and senior colleagues, and I strive to offer the same support to my students and fellow colleagues.'  Dr Salma Al Arefi

All applicants were invited to co-design an Inspirational Programme to inspire and empower other women with their example.