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ICG Research Fellow Short-listed for Award Promoting Women in Science

Dr Karen Masters, a Research Fellow in the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation, was short-listed for a prestigious Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) Excellence award (http://www.theukrc.org/news-and-events/the-2012-wise-awards). This award recognises inspiring organisations and individual women demonstrating a high level of commitment to their chosen profession and to actively promoting science, engineering and construction to girls and young women.

Dr. Masters at the WISE Awards Event in London YesterdayDr. Masters at the WISE Awards Event in London Yesterday

The 2012 WISE Awards in association with Amey contain eight categories and this year there was an overwhelming response. Dr. Masters was one of five women to be nominated for the WISE Excellence award for women working in the early stages of their career in science technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects.

Dr. Masters was nominated for her dedication to promoting careers in STEM to young women, a commitment which include dozens of activities. She is an ambassador for STEMnet (www.stemnet.org ), a network promoting STEM subjects in schools, and regularly makes school visits to talk about astronomy and science. An active member of Twitter (https://twitter.com/KarenLMasters), she frequently blogs (www.beautifulstars.com) on the topic of women in science and has more than a thousand followers.

Karen is also a lead astronomer at Galaxy Zoo (www.galaxyzoo.org), a global astronomy project which encourages public involvement. She has initiated and edited a series of profiles of women involved in the project including the profile of a 15 year old female Galaxy Zoo volunteer, as well as several young women working in the early stages of research careers.

Karen said that she was delighted to have been nominated for an award promoting a subject she believes in passionately.

She said: “There should be no barriers to women working in science but for some reason there still seems to be hurdles for them to overcome. But if I can help as many young women overcome those barriers that gives me immense personal satisfaction.

“I strongly believe there are some great careers for women scientists and gives me pleasure to be an informal mentor to them, particularly those thinking of having children who know I have experienced some of the issues they worry about. I tell them it’s not a barrier to having a career in science.”

Professor Bob Nichol of the ICG said Karen is an outstanding candidate for the award.

He said: “Karen is one of the best postdoctoral researchers I have ever worked with over my 20 years as an astronomer. She has demonstrated time and again her high level of commitment to a career in research astronomy and to the promotion of SET careers to girls and young women.”

Organisers of the awards said that nominations received for the eight categories were outstanding, demonstrating a true commitment from Industry, Academia and women working in all areas of science, engineering, technology and construction.

Helen Wollaston, the Director of the UKRC-WISE, said: “We are delighted with the range of nominations we received from different STEM sectors and careers this year. The work individual women and organisations in all sectors are doing to promote science, engineering and construction careers is truly impressive. It was inspiring to read the nominations and the 2012 WISE Awards Judging Panel most definitely had a tough time making decisions.”

The WISE Awards were presented yesterday at an event in London at the home of The Institution of Engineering and Technology. HRH The Princess Royal, patron of WISE attended the event, presented the awards to the winners and met all the shortlisted candidates. The Excellence Award was won by Jia-Yan Gu, a researcher in semantic technology for BT. While Karen did not win, the judges commented that they were very impressed with the progression she has made in her career over a short timeframe, and that her commitment to communicating STEM was also highly commendable.

Other awards given yesterday include the WISE Advisor Award for career advisors, teachers, ambassadors, mentors and educators who have motivated and enthused girls and young women to pursue STEM related subjects and an award for Innovation and Entrepreneurship which celebrates women who are creating change, making discoveries, innovating processes, establishing new ventures and helping the UK excel in STEM

The UKRC’s high profile annual photographic exhibition, the Women of Outstanding Achievement Awards, will feature at the same event. The exhibition is a collection of creative and dramatic portraits that celebrate leading academics and business women within science, engineering and technology.

Notes

The UKRC – WISE - Advancing gender equality and diversity from classroom to boardroom in science, engineering and technology.

About WISE – Women into Science and engineering (WISE) inspires and celebrates women and girls from all backgrounds to pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) as pathways to exciting, worthwhile and fulfilling careers. WISE also supports education, business and industry with expert advice, consultancy and training.

The WISE Awards - The WISE Awards in association with Amey are presented in recognition of the achievement of companies and individuals in promoting science, engineering and construction to girls and young women. Our high profile annual photographic exhibition, the Women of Outstanding Achievement Awards, will feature at the same event. The exhibition is a collection of creative and dramatic portraits that profile outstanding contemporary women within science, engineering and technology.