Top Women in STEM

This list features 40 remarkable women who have shaped the scientific landscape, and who continue to build on this landscape today. Luminaries include groundbreaking biochemists, leading-edge technologists, and top environmental scientists. Leading influencers have served as professors, department chairs, and university presidents. A look at the women on this list, and a deep dive into their achievements, reveals a STEM field brimming with exciting possibilities and promising new horizons.

Top Women in STEM

STEM refers to four frequently overlapping and critically important academic fields–science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. STEM takes an interdisciplinary approach to these subjects, providing a rigorous educational experience that connects physical, earth, and life sciences with practical, real-world applications. STEM leaders and influencers create lifesaving medical treatments, produce innovative solutions to global climate change, uncover new revelations about human genetics, and much more. Taken together, the areas of study that make up STEM teach us more every day about the technology at our disposal, the world around us, the universe beyond us, and the bodies that contain us.

The history of the hard sciences reveals a rigid male patriarchy. Women faced limited opportunities for advanced education and STEM careers before the latter part of the 20th Century. This is why it’s so fascinating and exciting to examine influence in the STEM fields through a 21st Century lens. Narrowing our focus to the time period between 2010 and 2020, we can see the profound impact that women exert today over vital STEM fields like biology, chemistry, computer science, engineering, medicine, and every other area where innovation, invention, and ingenuity meet.

This list features 40 remarkable women who have shaped the scientific landscape, and who continue to build on this landscape today. Luminaries include groundbreaking biochemists, leading-edge technologists, and top environmental scientists. Leading influencers have served as professors, department chairs, and university presidents. A look at the women on this list, and a deep dive into their achievements, reveals a STEM field brimming with exciting possibilities and promising new horizons. The achievements catalogued here are truly shaping our future, from the health of our environment and the capacity of our technology to our safety in public spaces and even our life expectancy.

In the interdisciplinary spirit of the STEM fields, our ranking of the Top Women is divided into eight major sub-disciplines, but as you read on, you’ll note that most of these influencers have knowledge and education rooted in multiple, overlapping areas of study. Here, we consider the contributions of the women who have had the most profound influence in the areas of science, technology and mathematics over the last decade.

Read more about our methodology.

Most Influential Women in STEM
2010-2020

Top Women Biologists

1.Jennifer Doudna

Jennifer Doudna
Jennifer Doudna
(1964 -   )
Washington, DC, USA

University of California, Berkeley

Li Ka Shing Chancellor Chair Professor for the Department of Chemistry & Department of Molecular and Cell Biology

Biochemistry, Molecular Biology

Jennifer Doudna is a Li Ka Shing Chancellor Chair Professor for the Department of Chemistry and Department of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California, Berkeley. In addition, she has been a professor at the University of California at San Francisco and an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and senior investigator at the Gladstone Institutes. She earned a B.A. in biochemistry from Pomona College and a Ph.D. in biological chemistry and molecular pharmacology from Harvard Medical School.

She is best known for her work with CRISPR. She, along with her colleague Emmanuelle Charpentier, were the first to suggest that genes could be edited or reprogrammed, now considered one of the most impactful discoveries ever made in the field of biology.

For her work in gene editing, she has received numerous prestigious awards, including the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, the Gruber Prize in Genetics, the Kavli Prize in Nanoscience and in 2016, she was runner-up for the Time magazine Person of the Year, alongside her fellow CRISPR colleagues.

She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Inventors. Doudna has been awarded the LUI Che Woo Prize for Welfare Betterment and, in 2020, earned the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, alongside Emmanuelle Charpentier, “for the development of a method for genome editing.”

Also featured in Top Influential Biologists Today

Academic Website

Professional Website

2.Monica Bettencourt-Dias

Mónica Bettencourt-Dias
Monica Bettencourt-Dias
(1974 -   )
Portugal

Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência

Director

Molecular Biology

Monica Bettencourt-Dias is the Director of Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência. A biochemist and cellular biologist, she is also the head of the Cell Cycle Regulation research group. She earned her undergraduate degree in biochemistry from the University of Lisbon, and graduated from University College London with a doctorate in biochemistry and molecular biology. She split her postdoctoral time between the University of Cambridge and Birkbeck College, where she researched kinases and scientific communication. She earned a Diploma in Science Communication from Birkbeck College in 2004, which arose from her work on improving how scientists communicate with the public.

Her laboratory work has focused on complex subcellular structure and how they change during disease, development, and evolution, using complex cytoskeletal assemblies for study. For her research efforts, Bettencourt-Dias has won numerous awards, including the Eppendorf Young European Investigator Award, the Pfizer Award for Basic Research, and the Keith Porter Prize from the American Society for Cell Biology.

She was named a European Molecular Biology Organization Young Investigator Fellow in 2009 and became a full member of that organization in 2015.

Bettencourt-Dias current research projects include studies of spatial control of centriole biogenesis, causes, and consequences of centriole deregulation in cancer, the evolution of microtubule-organizing centers, and mechanisms of cilia diversification.

Also featured in Top Influential Biologists Today

Professional Website

3.Emmanuelle Charpentier

Emmanuelle Charpentier
Emmanuelle Charpentier
(1968 -   )
France

Max Planck Unit for the Science of Pathogens, Humboldt University

Founding and Acting Director, Honorary Professor

Microbiology, Genetics

Emmanuelle Charpentier is the Founding and Acting Director of the Max Planck Unit for the Science of Pathogens and an Honorary Professor at Humboldt University. She completed her undergraduate studies at the Pierre and Marie Curie University, which is now known as the Faculty of Science at Sorbonne University. She went on to earn a research doctorate from the Institut Pasteur.

Charpentier is well known for her collaboration with Jennifer Doudna on decoding the molecular mechanisms of the CRISPR/Cas9 bacterial immune system. Her work on CRISPR has enabled scientists to edit the genome using Cas9.

For her work on CRISPR, she has received the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award, the Gruber Foundation International Prize in Genetics, the Leibniz Prize, the Kavli Prize and the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, the Novozymes Prize, the Bijvoet Medal of the Bijvoet Center for Biomolecular Research at Utrecht University, and most recently, the Scheele Award of the Swedish Pharmaceutical Society.

Charpentier is an elected member of the National Academy of Technologies of France, the German National Academy of Science and Engineering Acatech, and the French Académie des sciences. She is an elected foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences. In 2020, Charpentier earned the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, alongside Jennifer Doudna, “for the development of a method for genome editing.”

Also featured in Top Influential Biologists Today

Academic Website

4.Jo Handelsman

Jo Handelsman
Jo Handelsman
(1959 -   )
New York, New York, USA

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Professor of Plant Pathology, Director of the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery

Microbiology, Bacteriology, Plant Pathology

Jo Handelsman was born in New York City. She is Professor of Plant Pathology, Vilas Research Professor, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor, and Director of the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, all at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Handelsman obtained her bachelor’s degree in agronomy from Cornell University in 1979, and her PhD in molecular biology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1984.

In 2010, Handelsman joined the Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology at Yale University, where her research focused on the microorganisms present in soil and insect gut. Handelsman is well known for coining the term “metagenomics” (genetic material present in an organism’s environment) and pioneered the use of environmental DNA in the study of antibiotic resistance. Also among Handelsman’s most critical findings is the revelation that the gender of a name on a science resume affects a professor’s inclination to hire, mentor, and pay applicants for a lab position.

In 2014, President Barack Obama appointed Handelsman Associate Director for Science at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, where she served until January of 2017. Handelsman has authored or co-authored some 160 peer-reviewed journal articles and has authored, co-authored, or co-edited 11 books.

Academic Website

Professional Website

5.Nancy Rothwell

Nancy Rothwell
Nancy Rothwell
(1955 –  )
England, UK

University of Manchester

Professor of Physiology

Physiology

Nancy Rothwell is the President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Manchester, the director of AstraZeneca, a global pharmaceuticals company, and a physiologist. She is also a trustee of Cancer Research UK and chair of the Research Defence Society. She earned her first class degree in physiology and a PhD from Queen Elizabeth College.

Her early research efforts were focused on obesity, cachexia, and energy balance regulation. She is a vocal supporter of women in science and has provided visionary leadership in her role as the president of the Royal Society of Biology. She was the first woman to lead the University of Manchester, a testament to her groundbreaking work and transformative leadership style.

Rothwell was named Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire and is a fellow of the Royal Society, the Royal Society of Biology and the Academy of Medical Sciences. She was named one of the most powerful women in the United Kingdom by Women’s Hour and received the Royal Society Pfizer Award.

Most recently, she has been researching the role of inflammation in brain disease. Her discovery of the impacts of cytokine interleukin-1 is giving rise to new treatment methods designed to inhibit the inflammatory response in strokes.

Also featured in Top Influential Biologists Today

Academic Website

Top Women Chemists

1.Carolyn Bertozzi

Carolyn Bertozzi
Carolyn Bertozzi
(1966 -   )
Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Stanford University

Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor

Biorthogonal Chemistry, Glycobiology

Carolyn Bertozzi is the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences at Stanford University, and is an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. She earned a B.A. in chemistry from Harvard University and a Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley.

Bertozzi is the founder of bioorthogonal chemistry, a subfield of chemistry that allows scientists to modify molecules in living organisms without disrupting processes occurring within the cells. She has also worked extensively to study how viruses can bind to sugars, known as glycobiology. Her work on the interactions of sugar within the body, and diseases such as arthritis, tuberculosis and cancer, have yielded critical insights with implications across medical specialties.

She has also provided important leadership in the field. She is founder or co-founder of companies such as Thios Pharmaceuticals, Redwood Bioscience, Enable Biosciences, Palleon Pharma, InterVenn Biosciences, Grace Science Foundation, OliLux Biosciences and Lycis Therapeutics.

She has over 600 research publications, including “Bioorthogonal Chemistry: Fishing for Selectivity in a Sea of Functionality”, and “Glycans in cancer and inflammation—potential for therapeutics and diagnostics”.

Bertozzi received the MacArthur Genius Grant at age 33, In 2010, she became the first woman to receive the prestigious Lemelson-MIT Prize faculty award. Most recently, Bertozzi was honored with the John J. Carty Award for the Advancement of Science and the Chemistry for the Future Solvay Prize.

Also featured in Top Influential Biologists Today
Top Influential Chemists Today

Academic Website

2. Ada Yonath

Ada Yonath
Ada Yonath
(1939 -   )
Jerusalem, Israel

Weizmann Institute of Science, The Helen and Milton A. Kimmelman Center for Biomolecular Structure and Assembly

The Martin S. and Helen Kimmel Professor of Structural Biology, Director

Crystallography

Yonath is Director of the Helen and Milton A. Kimmelman Center for Biomolecular Structure and Assembly of the Weizmann Institute of Science. She received her bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1962, her master’s in biochemistry in 1964, and her Ph.D. in Chemistry from the Weizmann Institute of Science in 1968.

Yonath is a crystallographer, a branch of chemistry that studies the arrangement of atoms in crystalline solids. Yonath has applied crystallographic techniques to the study of the ribosome, which has resulted in pioneering research in that area. In 2009, Yonath won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for her work on the structure and function of the ribosome (along with two colleagues). She became the first Israeli woman ever to win the Nobel Prize as well as the first woman in 45 years to win in the Chemistry field.

Yonath has held postdoctoral positions at Carnegie Mellon University and MIT. She founded the first protein crystallography laboratory in Israel, has been visiting Professor at the University of Chicago, and also directed a Max-Plank Institute Research Unit in Hamburg Germany. In addition to the Nobel Prize, Yonath won the Wolf Prize in Chemistry in 2006, and many other awards during her long and distinguished career.

Also featured in Top Influential Chemists Today

Academic Website

3.Lesley Yellowlees

Lesley Yellowlees
Lesley Yellowlees
(1953 -   )
London, England, UK

University of Edinburgh

Professor of Inorganic Electrochemistry

Inorganic Electrochemistry, Solar Cell Chemistry

Yellowlees is Professor of Inorganic Electrochemistry at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. She is the first woman elected to head of chemistry at Edinburgh. She is also Head of the College of Science and Engineering. Yellowlees received her bachelor’s degree (BsC) in Chemical Physics at the University of Edinburgh in 1975, and finished her Ph.D. in Inorganic Electrochemistry at Edinburgh in 1982.

Yellowlees’ career has focused on important areas of inorganic chemistry, including work on solar cell chemistry and electrochemical research. She became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry in 2005 as well as an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry in 2015. Yellowlees was also the first woman ever elected as the president of the Royal Society of Chemistry, a seat she held from 2012–14. In 2014, she was included in the BBC’s 100 Women, a series highlighting the role of women in the 21st century.

Academic Website

Also featured in Top Influential Chemists Today

4.Frances Arnold

Frances Arnold
Frances Arnold
(1956 -   )
Edgewood, Pennsylvania, USA

California Institute of Technology

Linus Pauling Professor of Chemical Engineering, Bioengineering, and Biochemistry

Chemical Engineering, Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, Biochemistry, Chemical Biology, Organic Chemistry

Frances Arnold is the Linus Pauling Professor of Chemical Engineering, Bioengineering, and Biochemistry for the California Institute of Technology. She earned a B.S. in mechanical and aerospace engineering from Princeton University and an M.S. and Ph.D in chemical engineering from the University of California at Berkeley. She earned a Nobel Prize in Chemistry for her discovery of methods of using directed evolution to facilitate enzyme development.

Some of the enzymes she has been able to develop with directed evolution are enzymes to produce environmentally friendly pharmaceuticals and renewable fuels. Other enzymes have evolved to provoke cyclopropanation and nitrene transfer reactions.

In addition to the Nobel Prize, she has also received the honor of being the first woman to be chosen for the National Academy of Medicine, the National Academy of Engineering, and the National Academy of Sciences. She won the Millenium Technology Prize in 2016 and the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Prize in Convergence Research in 2017.

Arnold was Inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2014 and became an International fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2018. Most recently, Pope Francis made her a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, a scientific academy located in the Vatican City.

Also featured in Top Influential Chemists Today
Top Influential Engineers Today

Academic Website

5.Angela K. Wilson

Angela K. Wilson
Angela K. Wilson
(1968 -   )
Michigan, USA

Michigan State University

John A. Hannah Distinguished Professor of Chemistry

Theoretical and Computational Chemistry, Chemical Physics, Inorganic Chemistry

Angela K. Wilson was born on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. She is currently John A. Hannah Distinguished Professor of Chemistry at Michigan State University (MSU), Director of the MSU Center for Quantum Computing, Science, and Engineering, and Associate Dean for Strategic Initiatives in MSU’s College of Natural Sciences.

Wilson received her bachelor’s degree in 1990 from Eastern Washington University and her PhD in 1995 from the University of Minnesota. After graduating, Wilson held a postdoc at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and a research assistantship at the University of Oklahoma. Wilson then held regular faculty positions with Oklahoma Baptist University and the University of North Texas, where she eventually held the titles of Regents Professor, Director of the Center for Advanced Scientific Computing and Modeling, and Associate Vice Provost for Faculty.

In 2016, Wilson joined the faculty of MSU, where, in addition to her titles listed above, she is also head of the Wilson Research Group for Physical, Theoretical, and Computational Chemistry. In September of 2020, Wilson was chosen as President-Elect of the American Chemical Society, the premier national professional association for chemists. She is due to take office in early 2021.

Wilson has authored or co-authored more than 360 peer-reviewed journal articles and co-edited five books.

Academic Website

Top Women Computer Scientists

1.Daphne Koller

Daphne Koller
Daphne Koller
(1968 -   )
Israel

Stanford University

Professor — Department of Computer Science

Machine Learning, Artifical Intelligence, Computational Biology

Koller is a professor of computer science at Stanford University. She received her bachelor’s degree from Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1985, and her Ph.D. from Stanford in 1993. Her former students include notable computer scientists Ben Tasker, Suchi Saria, and Eran Segal.

Koller’s work focuses on probabilistic reasoning, representation, and inference with graphical models like Bayes Nets. With Stanford colleague Andrew Ng, Koller launched the online learning platform Coursera in 2012, serving as co-CEO with Ng and later as the company’s president. Koller has also been active in using modern data science and statistics to improve areas of concern for us like health care. For instance, she has made important contributions to the development of techniques and software that help predict whether premature babies will have health problems. She has directed her focus on computer vision as well as computational biology toward the development of applications and systems that can help in decision making and diagnosis in medical and other industries.

Koller has received numerous awards in her distinguished career in computer science, including winning the MacArthur Fellowship in 2004. She is a favorite of popular media, listed as one of the Ten Most Important People of 2010 by Newsweek. Also in 2010, the Huffington Post named her one of the 100 Game Changers, and in 2013 Time Magazine included her in its list of 100 Most Influential People.

Also featured in Top Influential Computer Scientists Today

Academic Website

2.Nancy Lynch

Nancy Lynch
Nancy Lynch
(1948 -   )
Brooklyn, New York, USA

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

NEC Professor of Software Science and Engineering

Distributed Algorithms, Formal Modeling

Nancy Lynch is the head of the Theory of Distributed Systems research group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, a mathematician, theorist and NEC Professor of Software Science and Engineering. She attended Brooklyn College, where she studied mathematics. She went on to earn a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

She began her career teaching math and computer science at Tufts University, Florida International University, the Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Southern California. She worked with colleagues to show that an asynchronous distributed system does not allow consensus if one processor crashes. Their research was awarded the PODC Influential-Paper Award for 2001, the first of two for Lynch, who was recognized again by the organization in 2007.

She has written many research articles regarding formal modeling and the validation of distributed systems and a widely used graduate textbook, Distributed Algorithms. She is a fellow of the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering and the ACM.

She has also been recognized for her work. In 2006, Lynch was awarded the Van Wijngaarden Award (named for the Dutch mathematician credited as the father of informatics) and in 2007 she won the Knuth Prize.

Also featured in Top Influential Computer Scientists Today

Academic Website

3.Shafrira Goldwasser

Shafrira Goldwasser
Shafrira Goldwasser
(1958 -   )
New York, New York

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Weizman Institute of Science

RSA Professor, Professor of Mathematical Sciences

Computational Complexity Theory, Cryptography, Number Theory

Shafrira “Shafi” Goldwasser is the RSA Professor of Computer Science at MIT, as well as Professor of Mathematical Sciences at Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. She received a bachelor’s degree in computer science and mathematics from Carnegie Mellon University, and a master’s and Ph.D. from The University of California at Berkeley.

Goldwasser’s impressive career spans many areas in computer science, including computational complexity theory, cryptography, and number theory. She has been in high demand during her impressive career in computer science, serving as chief scientist and co-founder of thr Israeli company Duality Technologies using cryptographic methods for data security, and has served as an advisor to a number of successful ventures, including companies focusing on blockchain technology, which has become hugely popular in recent years. Goldwasser is also a member of the Theory of Computation group at the world-renowned Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at MIT. Her primary focus is on fundamental aspects of computer security, like cryptography, a topic that is of both theoretical interest in computer science and mathematics and has obvious practical applications to many industries like finance, banking, and data protection.

Goldwasser received the highest honor in computer science, the Turing Award in 2012, along with Silvio Micali for their work on cryptography. She was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2001, and has received many other awards and distinctions in her career as a computer scientist.

Also featured in Top Influential Computer Scientists Today

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Professional Website

4.Karen Petrie

Karen Petrie
Karen Petrie
(1980 -   )

University of Dundee

Reader, School of Science and Engineering

Constraints Programming, Artifical Intelligence

Karen Elizabeth Jefferson Petrie was born in the UK. She is currently Reader in the Department of Computing in the School of Science and Engineering at the University of Dundee in Scotland, as well as Associate Dean for Learning and Teaching of the same School.

Petrie has stated that she first learned to program computers on a Commodore 64 when she was eight years old. Petrie received her bachelor’s degree in computer science in 2001 from the University of St. Andrews, and her PhD in artificial intelligence in 2004 from the University of Huddersfield. She wrote her dissertation on the topic of Constraint Programming.

Following her doctorate, Petrie held a variety of post-doc positions, including Intern at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the US, Research Associate at the University of St. Andrews, and Research Fellow at the University of Oxford.

In 2009, Petrie joined the staff of the University of Dundee. She is best known for the “Petrie Multiplier,” which is a measure of the frequency of sexist behavior in a social network as a function of the percentage of females present in the network.

Petrie has authored or co-authored some 60 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters.

Academic Website

5.Wendy Hall

Wendy Hall
Wendy Hall
(1952 -   )
London, UK

University of Southampton

Regus Professor of Computer Science

Hypermedia, Web Science

Hall is Regus Professor of Computer Science at the University of Southampton in the UK. She received her bachelor’s and Ph.D. in Mathematics at Southampton. She also has a master’s degree in Computing at City University in London.

Hall has the distinction of developing a working hypertext system before the World Wide Web existed. The team she led created the powerful Microcosm hypermedia system, which was later used commercially with the start-up Multicosm, LTD. For her groundbreaking work, Hall became the first female professor at Southampton. She was also Head of the School of Electronics and Computer Science, from 2002 to 2007.

Hall worked with founder of the Web Tim Berners-Lee as founding director of the Web Science Research Initiative (WSRI). Her work at WSRI helped establish Web Science, the study of behavior and interaction on large-scale networks like the World Wide Web.

Hall’s work has been recognized with prestigious positions as President of the British Computer Society and the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). Along with Tim Berners-Lee, she is truly one of the pioneers of our modern Web, and its many areas of interest and concern for the field of computer science.

Also featured in Top Influential Computer Scientists Today

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Top Women Earth Scientists

1.Naomi Oreskes

Naomi Oreskes
Naomi Oreskes
(1958 -   )

Harvard University

Professor of the History of Science

History of Environmental Sciences, Science Policy, Philosophy of Science

Naomi Oreskes is a Professor of the History of Science, and an Affiliated Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard University. She earned a B.S. in mining geology from the Royal School of Mines of the Imperial College of London. She went on to earn a Ph.D in geological research and history of science from Stanford University. Her body of work has encompassed geology, scientific methods, climate change, plate tectonics and the history and philosophy of science.

In 2004, she wrote an essay about evolving views on climate change, called Beyond the Ivory Tower: The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change, which has been cited by Al Gore. She also co wrote a book about the climate debate, called Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming, which surveyed views regarding climate change from a history of science viewpoint, and drawing parallels between climate change and other controversial scientific theories such as acid rain.

She has also written other notable works, including The Rejection of Continental Drift: Theory and Method in American Earth Science and most recently, Why Trust Science, which was published in 2019. Her recent work explores the doubt-creation machine driving propaganda about climate change.

Also featured in Top Influential Earth Scientists Today

Academic Website

2.Krístin Vala Ragnarsdóttir

Kristin Vala Ragnarsdottir
Krístin Vala Ragnarsdóttir
(1954 -   )
Iceland

University of Iceland

Professor of Sustainability Science

Geochemistry, Transdisciplinary Sustainability Science

Krístin Vala Ragnarsdóttir was born in Iceland. She is Professor of Sustainability Science with the Institute of Earth Sciences and the Institute of Sustainability Studies at the University of Iceland. She also served as the University of Iceland’s Dean of the School of Engineering and Natural Sciences from 2008 until 2012. Vala was the first woman to serve as Dean of a School at the University.

Ragnarsdóttir obtained her bachelor’s degree in 1979 from the University of Iceland, her master’s degree in 1981 from Northwestern University, and her PhD in 1984, also from Northwestern. Before returning to the University of Iceland, Ragnarsdóttir held the position of Professor of Environmental Sustainability at the University of Bristol in the UK.

In addition, Ragnarsdóttir is also Distinguished Fellow at the Bristol-based Schumacher Institute, former Vice President of the New Hampshire based Balaton Group, and Fellow of the London-based Academia Europeae, the Icelandic Academy, and the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.

Ragnarsdóttir’s research has primarily focused on evaluating natural resources in relation to the economy, and, more specifically, on determining structures and indicators for the wellbeing economy and for soil sustainability.

Ragnarsdóttir has authored or co-authored some 200 peer-reviewed journal articles.

Academic Website

3.Ceridwen Fraser

Ceridwen Fraser
Ceridwen Fraser
(1979 -   )
Canberra, Australia

University of Otago

Professor

Ecology, Evolution, Climate Change

Ceridwen Fraser is a research associate professor at the Department of Marine Science for the University of Otago (New Zealand). She conducted her undergraduate studies at the University of Canberra (paper conservation) and Macquarie University (marine science) and earned her Ph.D. from the University of Otago.

Her research has focused on evolution, ecology and climate change, focusing on the impacts of these forces in the southern hemisphere. After graduation, she worked with the University of Otago’s Allan Wilson Centre for Molecular Ecology and then moved on to the Universite Libre de Bruxelles in Belgium, to work with their Biological Control and Spatial Ecology group. She is deeply interested in the ebb and flow of biodiversity in response to climate and environmental forces.

Her most widely-known work, “Kelp genes reveal effects of sub antarctic sea ice during the Last Glacial Maximum”, explores bio-organisms such as Southern Bull Kelp, evaluating their DNA sequences to determine how ice levels have changed in the southern hemisphere.

Fraser was honored with the ARC Discovery Early Career Research Award in 2014, the Australian Academy of Science Fenner Award in 2018, and most recently, the MacArthur & Wilson Award in 2019. Her collaborative research has yielded important contributions to our understanding of climate change and glacial ice melt.

Also featured in Top Influential Earth Scientists Today

Academic Website

Professional Website

4.Isabelle Daniel

Isabelle Daniel
Isabelle Daniel
(1968 -   )

Claude Bernard University Lyon 1

Professor

Mineralogy

Isabelle Daniel is a mineralogist for the Claude Bernard University Lyon 1. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s in Earth sciences at the École Normale Supérieure de Lyon and her Ph.D from Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1. She went on to also earn a master’s in geology from the University of Rennes. Her research has focused on mineral interactions under the most extreme conditions available and the extreme pressure or temperatures create conditions inhospitable for life. She also studies the biosignatures of early life in near impossible conditions.

In addition to her work as a mineralogist, Daniel is a professor for the Laboratoire de Géologie de Lyon and also Dean of the Observatory of Earth Sciences and Astrophysics of Lyon. She has been vice president of the European Mineralogical Union since 2016. She is chair of the Deep Energy Scientific Steering Committee for the Deep Carbon Observatory and co-chair of the Deep Carbon Science in the Context of Geologic Time Gordon Research Conference.

Her research employs methods such as synchrotron x-ray diffraction and Raman spectroscopy, which she uses to study serpentine minerals, chemistry of hydrous minerals, interactions at high pressure and high temperatures, and microbial life.

Also featured in Top Influential Earth Scientists Today

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Professional Website

5.Marcia McNutt

Marcia McNutt
Marcia McNutt
(1952 -   )
Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

National Academy of Sciences

President

Oceanography, Volcanology

Marcia McNutt is the 22nd President of the United States’ National Academy of Sciences. She earned a bachelor’s degree in physics from Colorado College and a Ph.D in earth sciences from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Her accomplishments are vast. She has served as chief scientist on a number of major oceanographic expeditions and conducted notable research on volcanoes and the rheology of “young” volcanoes. She served as the president and CEO of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, during which time they built the Monterey Accelerated Research System, which is the very first cabled observatory to be placed in the deepest oceans. She has also been certified by the National Association of Underwater Instructors to be a scuba instructor and even trained with the United States Navy SEALs on underwater demolition and explosive handling.

In 2009, she was unanimously confirmed by the Senate to be the first female director of the United States Geological Survey and a science advisor for the United States Secretary of the Interior. Significant work was completed during her tenure at the USGS, including a geologic surface map of Io, one of Jupiter’s moons and among the most volcanically active locations in our solar system.

McNutt was elected as president of the National Academy of Sciences in 2016, a seat she will hold until at least 2022.

Also featured in Top Influential Earth Scientists Today

Professional Website

Top Women Engineers

1.Karen Bausman

Karen Bausman
Karen Bausman
(1958 -   )
Allentown, Pennsylvania, USA

Pratt Institute

Adjunct Associate Professor

Architecture

The only American woman to hold both distinguished design chairs, Karen Bausman has held the Eero Saarinen Chair at Yale University’s School of Architecture and the Eliot Noyes Chair at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University. She is also currently Adjunct Associate Professor at Pratt Institute and principal of Karen Bausman & Associates, and a Fellow of the American Academy in Rome. She earned a professional degree in architecture from the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, which later awarded her their President’s Citation for Outstanding Contributions to the field of Architecture.

Bausman is a former faculty member from Columbia University’s School of Architecture’s Advanced Architectural Design Studio, which was instrumental in the development of cutting edge techniques in digital visualization, composition and materials. With a keen interest in the use of biological or natural structures, she has designed such compelling structures as the Hamlin Chapel and Library and Flower Tower.

She was awarded the Rome Prize by the American Academy in 1994 and the Progressive Architecture Award for Design Excellence in 1998. In 2005, she was profiled in The New York Times after winning a multiyear contract to bring new vision to architectural design efforts throughout New York City. She provided commentary for the Emmy-Award winning PBS television program, Secrets in the Sky: The Towers of Gotham.

Also featured in Top Influential Engineers Today

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2.Dawn Bonfield

Dawn Bonfield
Dawn Bonfield
( -   )

Aston University

Royal Academy of Engineering Visiting Professor of Inclusive Engineering

Materials Engineering, Diversity/Inclusion in STEM

Dawn Bonfield currently holds the titles of Royal Academy of Engineering Visiting Professor of Inclusive Engineering at Aston University, as well as Director of Engineering Equality Diversity and Inclusion at Aston University. Bonfield is also a past president and chief executive of the Women’s Engineering Society.

With a background in materials engineering, Bonfield has previously worked at companies including British Aerospace, the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining, and the Atomic Energy Research Establishment (AERE), and has been plenty influential on those grounds alone. However, Dawn is widely known in engineering and beyond as an advocate of diversity and inclusion in STEM fields, where her greatest degree of influence lies.

A prominent woman in a field mostly filled with men, Bonfield has worked to open STEM careers to all. As the founder and director of Towards Vision, Bonfield has pushed for initiatives to balance the professional population in STEM with the global population. Toward this the organization, and Bonfield herself, disseminate research on the inclusion gap in STEM, as well as resources on how to fix it, including tools, events, and training workshops. Additionally, Bonfield manages the Magnificent Women project, celebrating the history of women in engineering, and is the UK representative on the World Federation of Engineering Organisations Women in Engineering Committee.

For her work, Bonfield has received numerous awards and honors, including a WISE award, an Association Congress Award from the International Women in Engineering Day campaign, and a SEMTA award for Diversity in Engineering.

Also featured in Top Influential Engineers Today

Academic Website

Professional Website

3.Benita Mehra

Benita Mehra
Benita Mehra
(1969 -   )
London, England, United Kingdom

Women’s Engineering Society

President

Electrical & Electronic Engineering, Construction Management

Benita Mehra was born near London into a family of Indian immigrants. She is based in London, where she works as an engineer in the public and private sectors. Mehra obtained her bachelor’s degree in electrical and electronic engineering from City University London.

After graduating, she worked for the British Airports Authority (BAA), eventually assuming responsibility for several multi-million-pound construction projects, including new terminal buildings at Heathrow and the redevelopment of Stansted airport. While working for BAA, she obtained her master’s degree in construction management from Heriot Watt University. In 2005, Mehra received an MBA from Henley Business School.

From 2015 until 2018, Mehra was President of the UK-based Women’s Engineering Society (WES). In 2020, Mehra was appointed to sit on the Grenfell Tower Inquiry panel. This panel had been previously commissioned to investigate the 2017 Grenfell Tower catastrophe, in which a fire consumed the residential tower, killing 72 of its residents.

Not long after Mehra’s appointment, it was disclosed that the company that had supplied the cladding for Grenfell Tower had made a sizable donation to the WES following the disaster, ostensibly to help victims’ families and other survivors. The fact that the WES accepted this donation while Mehra was President of the organization was widely regarded as creating a conflict of interest, and she soon announced her resignation from the panel.

Mehra has also actively campaigned for women to be more readily welcomed back into the engineering workforce after time taken out for maternity leave and she has encouraged small-to-medium business enterprises to explore job-sharing for mid-career workers. Today, Mehra works to inspire the next generation of innovators, working with teachers and girls to highlight career opportunities in engineering.

Professional Website

4.Eleanor K. Baum

Eleanor K. Baum
Eleanor K. Baum
(1940 -   )
Poland

Albert Nerken School of Engineering, Cooper Union

Former Dean

Electrical Engineering

Eleanor K. Baum was born in Poland. She is currently Dean Emeritus of the Albert Nerken School of Engineering at Cooper Union.

As a young child, Baum and her family were forced to flee their homeland by the Nazi invasion and occupation of their country. After escaping from Poland to the Soviet Union, they traveled across Siberia to reach Japan. From there, the family immigrated to Canada, before entering the US and settling in Brooklyn, New York, where Baum, an only child, attended Midwood High School.

Baum received her bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1959 from City College of New York, where she was the only woman in her class. Baum went on to earn her PhD in engineering in 1965 from the Polytechnic Institute of New York (now the New York University Tandon School of Engineering). After obtaining her doctorate, Baum worked in the aerospace industry, notably for Sperry Rand Corporation and General Instrument Corporation.

In 1984, Baum was hired by the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn as Dean of its School of Engineering—becoming the first woman in the US to hold such a position. In 1987, Baum was appointed Dean of the Albert Nerken School of Engineering at the Cooper Union in New York City.

Baum is married to the retired Queens College physicist, Paul Baum. The couple have two daughters and two granddaughters. From her position of influence in the field, Baum has worked hard to break the glass ceiling in engineering by actively encouraging young women and people of color to pursue careers within the profession.

Professional Website

5.Susan Krumdieck

Susan Krumdieck
Susan Krumdieck
(1969 -   )
Poland

University of Canterbury

Professor of Civil and Mechanical Engineering

Energy Transition Engineering, Antimicrobial Coatings

Susan Krumdieck was born in New Zealand. She is currently Professor of Civil and Mechanical Engineering at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Krumdieck received her bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 1983 from Colorado State University, and her master’s degree in energy systems in 1989 from Arizona State University. She then obtained her PhD in mechanical engineering in 1999 from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Krumdieck joined the faculty of the University of Canterbury in 2000. Krumdieck’s research focuses on ways to reduce fossil-fuel consumption by means of the development of innovative engineering methods and adaptive technologies. She has paid special attention to oil-supply problems arising in connection with transportation systems and urban planning.

Krumdieck is the leader of GATE (Global Association for Transition Engineering), a group of engineering academics and professionals working to facilitate the transition from a fossil fuel--based to a renewable fuel--based global economy.

Krumdieck has published more than 160 peer-review journal articles and book chapters. She is also the author of Transition Engineering: Building a Sustainable Future (CRC, 2019).

Academic Website

Top Women Mathematicians

1.Ingrid Daubechies

Ingrid Daubechies
Ingrid Daubechies
(1954 -   )
Houthalen-Helchteren, Belgium

Duke University

James B. Duke Professor of Mathematics

Wavelets, Inverse Problems, Shape Space, Time-Frequency Analysis

Daubechies is the James B. Duke Professor of Mathematics at Duke University. Prior to Duke, Daubechies was William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Mathematics at Princeton University from 2004-2011. She was the first female full professor of mathematics at the Ivy League institution. Daubechies is one of the most widely cited mathematicians, and is world renowned for her work on the mathematics of image compression, known as wavelets (an area of relevance to computer science and other disciplines in addition to mathematics). From Belgium, Daubechies received her bachelor’s in physics at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel in 1975. She received her Ph.D. from CNRS Center for Theoretical Physics in Marseille, France in 1980.

Daubechies proved an important result in wavelet theory that extended the theory to digital signal processing, a result of significant theoretic and practical significance. Her work on wavelets has made her one of the most influential mathematicians of our era. Notably, Daubechies has also been active in encouraging women to pursue studies and careers in mathematics and other cognate fields (like physics). She is co-founder of the Duke Summer Workshop in Mathematics for promising female students.

Daubechies was awarded the MacArthur Fellowship for her pivotal work in mathematics, and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1993. She received the Steele Prize for Exposition for her book Ten Lectures on Wavelets in 1994. She was also the first female president of the International Mathematical Union, among other notable distinctions.

Also featured in Top Influential Mathematicians Today

Academic Website

2.Caroline Klivans

Caroline Klivans
Caroline Klivans
(  -   )

Brown University

Associate Professor of Applied Mathematics

Alegbraic, Geometric, and Topological Combinatorics, Chip-Firing

Caroline Klivans currently holds the title of Associate Professor of Applied Mathematics in the Division of Applied Mathematics at Brown University; she is also the Associate Director of the Institute for Computational and Experimental Research in Mathematics (ICERM). Klivans previously held positions at The University of Chicago and Cornell University. She earned her BA in mathematics at Cornell University in 1999, and PhD from MIT in 2003.

Klivans is mostly focused on algebraic, geometric, and topological combinatorics, particularly in regards to chip-firing games and sandpile models. Not to be seen as trivial, chip-firing games are an important method in developing and understanding the properties of finite structures, which has implications for fields beyond mathematics. Toward this, Klivans is seen as a leading authority on the subject, having authored The Mathematics of Chip-Firing.

For her work, Klivans has received awards and honors including a National Science Foundation Conference Grant, a VIGRE Postdoctoral Fellowship, a NSF Graduate Fellowship, the Brown University Brazil Initiative Grant, and the Alice T. Schafer AWM National Mathematics Prize.

Also featured in Top Influential Mathematicians Today

Brown University Profile

Personal Website

3.Carola-Bibiane Schönlieb

Carola-Bibiane Schönlieb
Carola-Bibiane Schönlieb
(1979 -  )
Vienna, Austria

University of Cambridge

Professor in Applied and Computational Analysis

Image Processing, Partial Differential Equations

Carola-Bibiane Schönlieb currently holds the title of Professor in Applied and Computational Analysis in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at the University of Cambridge. She is also a Turing Fellow of the Alan Turing Institute, Director of the EPSRC Centre for Mathematical and Statistical Analysis of Multimodal Clinical Imaging, and Director of the Cantab Capital Institute for the Mathematics of Information. Schönlieb is Austrian, and completed her MA in mathematics at the University of Salzburg in 2004. She earned her PhD in 2009 at Cambridge, and completed postdoctoral studies at the University of Göttingen.

Schönlieb ’s work is primarily focused in image processing and partial differential equations. In particular, Schönlieb has made significant progress in applying partial differential equations in image analysis and inverse imaging problems, and problems in 3D and 4D imaging. As an interdisciplinarian, Schönlieb’s work has significant implications for a wide range of fields that employ video imaging, including chemical engineering, biomedical sciences, and art.

In addition to her research, Schönlieb is active in encouraging and advocating for women in mathematics, and is active with the European Women in Mathematics Association, and the Committee for Women in Mathematics.

For her work, Schönlieb has received awards and honors including the Whitehead Prize of the London Mathematical Society, the Philip Leverhulme Prize, and was named the Mary Cartwright Lecturer of the London Mathematical Society.

Also featured in Top Influential Mathematicians Today

Academic Website

Professional Website

4.Celia Mary Hoyles

Celia Hoyles
Celia Mary Hoyles
(1946 -  )
Chigwell, Essex, United Kingdom

University College London

Professor of Mathematics Education

Mathematics Education, Mathematics Policy, Applied Mathematics

Celia Mary Hoyles (née French) was born in Chigwell, Essex, a small town in the UK located about 20 miles northeast of London. She is Professor of Mathematics Education at University College London (UCL), as well as in that university’s Institute of Education.

After graduating from Loughton County High School in 1964, French (as she was then known) attended the University of Manchester, where she received her bachelor’s degree in 1967, with a First Class Honours degree in Mathematics. Upon graduation from university, French taught mathematics at a high school in London’s East End. In 1969, she married Martin Hoyles (the couple later divorced).

While still teaching in London, Celia Hoyles began taking classes part-time at the University of London (now UCL), from which she received a Post-Graduate Certification of Education with distinction in 1971. The following year, Hoyles began teaching as a Senior Lecturer at the Polytechnic of North London, while continuing her part-time graduate studies. In 1973, the University of London awarded her the Master of Education degree with distinction.

In 1980, Hoyles received her PhD from the University of London. Her dissertation was entitled, Factors in School Learning---The Pupils’ View: A Study with Particular Reference to Mathematics.

In 1984, Hoyles was appointed to her present position, which was then a newly created chair. She was the youngest professor in the university at the time. For a while in the late 1980s, Hoyles was presenter of Fun and Games, a prime-time television quiz show about mathematics.

In addition to the nearly 300 peer-reviewed journal articles she has published, Hoyles has co-authored or co-edited around 10 scholarly books, as well as a multi-volume set of interactive workbooks, UCL ScratchMaths, which is designed to teach math to child nine through 11 years of age.

Academic Website

5.Maryam Mirzakhani

Maryam Mirzakhani
Maryam Mirzakhani
(1977 -  )
Tehran, Iran

Stanford University

Professor of Mathematics

Teichmüller Theory, Hyperbolic Geometry, Ergodic Theory, Symplectic Geometry

Maryam Mirzakhani was born in Tehran, Iran. She received the 2014 Fields Medal (often referred to as the “Nobel Prize for Mathematics”). Mirzakhani is the first and, to-date, only female recipient of this prestigious award since its inception in 1936. At the time of her death, she was Professor of Mathematics at Stanford University.

Mirzakhani attended Farzanegan School in Tehran, a private girls’ school for the academically gifted. In 1994, she won a gold medal at the International Mathematical Olympiad, which was held in Hong Kong that year. The following year, in Toronto, she took home two gold medals.

In 1998, while studying as an undergraduate at Sharif University of Technology in Tehran–considered then as now Iran’s premier university of science and technology–Mirzakhani was involved in a tragic accident. A bus carrying Sharif University math students fell off a cliff, and she was one of only a handful of survivors.

In 1999, Mirzakhani received her bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Sharif University. She traveled to the US for her graduate training, receiving her PhD in 2004 from Harvard University, where she worked under the supervision of Curtis T. McMullen. After taking her doctorate, Mirzakhani was a Research Fellow with the Clay Mathematics Institute in Peterborough, New Hampshire, and then a professor at Princeton University.

In 2009, Mirzakhani took the position at Stanford which she held until her untimely death at the age of 40 from breast cancer. In her short life, Mirzakhani published some 25 peer-reviewed journal articles, and co-authored a book in Farsi whose title translates as Elementary Number Theory: Challenging Problems.

Mirzakhani’s work on the dynamics and geometry of Riemann surfaces and their moduli spaces is usually considered her greatest contribution to mathematics.

In 2016, Mirzakhani was elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences, USA.

Academic Website

Top Women in Medicine

1.Diana M. Zuckerman

Diana Zuckerman
Diana M. Zuckerman
(1950 -  )
Tehran, Iran

National Center for Health Research, Cancer Prevention and Treatment Fund

President

Epidemiology, Public Health, Children and Family Medicine

Diana M. Zuckerman is currently President of both the National Center for Health Research and the Cancer Prevention and Treatment Fund, non-profit organizations located in Washington, DC.

Zuckerman received her bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1972 from Smith College. She then attended Ohio State University, where she obtained a master’s degree in 1975 and a PhD in 1977, both in clinical psychology. During her doctoral training, Zuckerman occupied a clinical internship at Worcester State Hospital in Worcester, Massachusetts. After graduation, Zuckerman held post-doctoral fellowships at Yale Medical School and at Harvard University. She obtained her first regular faculty appointment at Vassar College, then returned to Yale University as a faculty member.

In her academic work, Zuckerman focused on the fields of epidemiology and public health, with special reference to children and families. In her later career in government and in the nonprofit sector, Zuckerman widened her scope to take in such matters as women’s and children’s health issues, medical-device safety, and conflicts of interest arising from academic medical research paid for by for-profit medical manufacturing and pharmaceutical companies.

Zuckerman first came to Washington, DC, in 1983, as a Congressional Science Fellow sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). She worked for the next decade or so as a Congressional staffer in the House and Senate, and at the Department of Health and Human Services. After a stint with the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, in 1995 Zuckerman was appointed to the Office of Science and Technology Policy, where she worked as a Senior Policy Advisor for First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The following year, Zuckerman left government service in order to work in the non-profit sector. In 1999, she was named President of the National Research Center for Women & Families (later renamed the National Center for Health Research), a think tank devoted to women’s and children’s health issues. Zuckerman has also served as a Fellow with the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Bioethics.

Zuckerman has published 78 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters, and has authored or co-authored five books.

Professional Website

2.Joanne Liu

Joanne Liu
Joanne Liu
(1965 -  )
Quebec City, Canada

University of Montreal

International President of Doctors Without Borders, Professor of Medicine

Pediatrics, Emergency Medicine, Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Community Medicine

Joanne Liu is a former International President of Médecins sans frontières, or as it is more commonly known, Doctors Without Borders, Associate Professor of Medicine for the University of Montreal, Professor of Clinical Medicine at McGill University, and a pediatric emergency doctor. She graduated with her M.D. from McGill University, a C.M. degree at the Centre hospitalier universitaire Sainte-Justine, and an international master’s in health leadership from McGill University.

From school, she went straight to Doctors Without Borders, helping them with public health efforts in Mauritania, the Indian ocean earthquake/tsunami in 2004, Haiti, Kenya, the Central African Republic, Palestine, and Darfur in the Sudan. Through her work, she has helped countless victims of natural disasters, cholera outbreaks, war, conflict, and displacement.

She is a member of the board of directors for the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative. She led an aggressive response by the Doctors Without Borders to the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa. In their work during the Ebola crisis, she provided critically important guidance for officials in local public health and government agencies in West Africa, as they attempted to prevent the spread of the virus.

In 2015, she declared the US bombing of a hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan a war crime, and urged an independent investigation.

Academic Website

Professional Website

3.Sally Davies

Sally Davies
Sally Davies
(1949 -  )
Birmingham, United Kingdom

Trinity College

Master, Former Chief Medical Officer (CMO) for England and Chief Medical Advisor to the UK Government

Sickle Cell Disease, Hematology, Antimicrobial Resistance

Sally Davies is Master of Trinity College at Cambridge. She earned an MB ChB from the University of Manchester’s Medical School and a Master of Science from the University of London.

Davies is a leading expert in sickle cell disease and diseases of the blood and bone marrow. She has made major contributions to public health in the U.K, as Director-General of Research and Development at the Department of Health and later, as Chief Scientific Advisor to the Health Secretary. In 2010, she became England’s first female Chief Medical Officer, which somewhat mirrors the role of Surgeon General in the United States.

In her leadership role, she has pushed for guidelines on alcohol tolerance and the promotion and advertising of junk food, as well as pushing for greater equity in scientific research, to ensure that diagnostic and treatment guidelines remain valid across genders and ethnicities.

Davies was named a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2009 for her outstanding contributions to medicine and was named the 6th most powerful woman in the UK in 2013 by BBC’s Radio 4. She became a fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2002 and of the Royal Society in 2014.

Academic Website

4.Irene Leigh

Irene Leigh
Irene Leigh
(1946 -  )
Liverpool, United Kingdom

University of Dundee

Professor Emeritus

Dermatology, Keratinocytes, Genetic-based Skin Diseases

Irene May Leigh was born in Liverpool in the UK. She is Professor Emeritus at the University of Dundee School of Medicine in Scotland. Leigh received her bachelor’s degree with First-Class Honours in Anatomy in 1968 and her master’s degree in 1971, both from London Hospital Medical College, which is attached to Queen Mary University (now a component part of the University of London).

After receiving an FRCP medical degree in 1989 from the Royal College of Physicians, she obtained an MD degree 1991 and a Doctor of Science (DSc) degree in medicine in 1999, both also from London Hospital Medical College. Leigh’s specialization was dermatology. More specifically, she has carried out research on keratinocytes, genetic-based skin diseases, and non-melanoma skin cancers.

After receiving her MD, Leigh lectured on medicine at the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. Upon returning to the UK, in 1992, Leigh was appointed to a teaching position at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital (Barts) and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry. In 2006, Leigh was appointed Professor of Cellular and Molecular Medicine at the University of Dundee.

During her tenure at the University of Dundee, she also served as Vice Principal for Research in clinical dermatology and later Head of College in the College of Medicine, Dentistry and Nursing. Over the years, Leigh has also served as Director of Cancer Research with the UK Skin Tumour Laboratory, Dundee; as Honorary Consultant Dermatologist with the National Health Service (NHS) Tayside; and as Senior Research Consultant with the International Prevention Research Institute in Lyon, France.

Leigh has authored or co-authored some 170 peer-reviewed journal articles and degree chapters, as well as four books.

Academic Website

5.Pauline Byakika-Kibwika

Pauline Byakika
Pauline Byakika-Kibwika
(1973 -  )
Uganda

Makerere University

Associate Professor of Medicine, Epidemiologist

Dermatology, Keratinocytes, Genetic-based Skin Diseases

Pauline Byakika-Kibwika (née Byakika) was born in eastern Uganda. She is Associate Professor of Medicine at the College of Health Sciences of Makerere University in Kampala, the Ugandan capital.

In 1999, Byakika (as she was then known) received her bachelor’s degree in medicine and surgery from Makerere University. After obtaining her bachelor’s degree, Byakika began working as a researcher at Mulago National Referral Hospital in Kampala. During this period, she continued her education at Makerere University, receiving two master’s degrees, in internal medicine and in clinical epidemiology and statistics.

In 2008, Byakika-Kibwika was appointed a Research Associate with Makerere University’s College of Health Sciences. For a time, she also held a joint appointment with Makerere’s Infectious Diseases Institute. Over the course of her academic career at Makerere, Byakika-Kibwika rose steadily through the academic ranks, becoming successively Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, and Associate Professor (her current title).

During an academic leave, Byakika-Kibwika traveled to Ireland, where she received a PhD in clinical pharmacology in 2012 from Trinity College Dublin. She wrote her dissertation on interactions between antimalarial and antiretroviral drugs.

Byakika-Kibwika also served as Vice President of the Uganda Medical Association from 2017 until 2019. Byakika-Kibwika has authored or co-authored some 45 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters.

Academic Website

Top Women Physicists

1.Lisa Randall

Lisa Randall
Lisa Randall
(1962 -  )
New York City, New York, USA

Harvard University

Frank B. Baird, Jr. Professor of Science

Randall–Sundrum Model, Theorectical Physics, Particle Physics

Lisa Randall is a theoretical physicist and currently the Frank B. Baird, Jr. Professor of Science on the physics faculty of Harvard University. Randall showed mathematical talent at an early age, winning first place in 1980 Westinghouse Science Talent Search at the age of 18. She received a BA degree in Physics and later a Ph.D. in theoretical particle physics from Harvard University in 1987.

Randall has made fundamental contributions to a number of areas of central importance in particle physics, including a contribution to the so-called Randall-Sundrum model, which seeks to explain the universe in terms of higher dimensional spaces. Randall also studies cosmology, with issues such as the nature of dark matter, cosmological inflation, and the cosmology of dimensions, all topics that contribute to our basic understanding of the physics of the universe. Professor Randall was the first tenured woman in the Princeton physics department, and similarly was the first female to receive tenure in Physics at Harvard University.

Randall has written popular accounts of physics, notably her 2005 Warped Passages: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Universe’s Hidden Dimensions and Knocking on Heaven’s Door: How Physics and Scientific Thinking Illuminate the Universe and the Modern World published in 2011. Importantly, she wrote an e-book explaining the discovery of the Higgs Boson, titled Higgs Discovery: The Power of Empty Space, and has helped the media and broader public understand the significance of the Higgs discovery as well as the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) used for experimental physics. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2004), the National Academy of Sciences (2008), and is a fellow of the American Physical Society.

Also featured in Top Influential Physicists Today

Academic Website

2.Jocelyn Bell Burnell

Jocelyn Bell Burnell
Jocelyn Bell Burnell
(1943 -  )
Lurgan, Northern Ireland

University of Oxford

Visiting Professor of Astrophysics

Astrophysics, Radio Pulsars

Jocelyn Bell Burnell currently holds the title of Visiting Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Oxford. Previously, she has held professorial and administrative roles at the University of Bath, Princeton University, the Open University, University College London, and University of Southampton. She was also president of the Royal Astronomical Society, president of the Institute of Physics, worked on the Interplanetary Scintillation Array, and was project manager for the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope. Native to Northern Ireland, Burnell earned her BS in natural philosophy at University of Glasgow in 1965, and her PhD from the University of Cambridge in 1969.

Burnell is quite famous for discovering the first radio pulsars while still a graduate student in 1967. While Burnell’s name was included among the five authors of the paper that won the 1974 Nobel Prize in Physics, Bell did not receive a prize or recognition from the committee; this has been a point of controversy, though Burnell does not herself seem to take issue with it. Given her presence at so many major institutions, both inside and outside of academia, Burnell’s influence in astrophysics is a fundamental one. Her role in advancing our knowledge of pulsars, as well as the application of radio telescopes, has guided the field into the twenty-first century.

Though snubbed by the Nobel committee, Burnell was awarded the Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics in 2012; Burnell promptly donated the entirety of the £2.3 million prize to the Institute of Physics with the goal of helping fund marginalized students in their goals of becoming physics researchers. Additionally, she has received awards and honors such as the Institute of Physics President’s Medal, the Royal Medal of the Royal Society, the J. Robert Oppenheimer Memorial Prize, and the Grande Médaille of the French Academy of Sciences.

Also featured in Top Influential Physicists Today

Royal Society Profile

3.Sabine Hossenfelder

Sabine Hossenfelder
Sabine Hossenfelder
(1976 -  )
Frankfurt, Germany

Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies

Research Fellow

Theorectical Physics, Quantum Gravity

Sabine Hossenfelder is currently a Research Fellow at the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies, and heads the Analog Systems for Gravity Duals group. She was previously a professor at Nordita in Stockholm, Sweden, and has held fellowships at University of California, Santa Barbara and the University of Arizona. Hossenfelder completed her BS in mathematics at Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany in 1997, and stayed there for her MS and PhD studies in theoretical physics, completed in 2003.

Hossenfelder is well known as a prominent figure in popular science, especially in regards to theoretical physics and her primary research interest of quantum gravity. She has published books such as Lost in Math: How Beauty Leads Physics Astray and pieces in magazines including Forbes, Quanta Magazine, and New Scientist, and is involved with the annual Experimental Search for Quantum Gravity conference series.

Also featured in Top Influential Physicists Today

Professional Website

4.Jenny Nelson

Jenny Nelson
Jennifer Nelson
(1962 -  )

Imperial College London

Professor of Physics

Photovoltaic Cells, Multi-scale Modelling of Molecular Electronic Materials

Jenny Nelson is Professor of Physics at Imperial College London. Irish by birth, Nelson received her undergraduate education from Churchill College, Cambridge University. In 1988, she obtained her PhD in physics from the University of Bristol. She wrote her dissertation on the optics of fractal clusters under the supervision of Michael Berry.

Since arriving at Imperial College London, Nelson has been associated with the Blackett Laboratory in the Faculty of Natural Sciences, as well as with the Grantham Institute—Climate Change and the Environment.

Nelson is best known for her work on the basic physics of photovoltaic cells. More specifically, her research has focused on the detailed physical description of new kinds of materials for use in the more-efficient transformation of solar energy into electricity. These have included nanostructured (inorganic) electronic materials (such as nanocrystalline oxides), disordered (organic) electronic materials, and organic-inorganic hybrids.

Today, Nelson leads her own research group—the Nelson Group—which focuses its research efforts on the following fields:

  • Energy Access
  • Molecular Electronics
  • Models & Simulation
  • Organic Solar Cells
  • Polymer Batteries
  • Photocatalysis

She has written some 575 peer-reviewed journal articles, as well as the widely read textbook, The Physics of Solar Cells.

Nelson is a Fellow of the Royal Society.

Academic Website

5.Donna Strickland

Donna Strickland
Donna Strickland
(1959 -  )
Guelph, Ontario, Canada

University of Waterloo

Professor of Physics

Intense Laser-Matter Interactions, Nonlinear Optics, Chirped Pulse Amplification

Donna Theo Strickland was born in Guelph, Ontario, Canada. She is currently a Professor of Physics at the University of Waterloo. She is the first woman to hold this position at the University.

She obtained her bachelor’s degree in engineering physics in 1981 from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. At McMaster, she specialized in lasers and electro-optics. She then received her PhD in physics in 1989 from Rochester University in Rochester, New York, where she worked at the Institute of Optics and the Institute for Laser Optics. She wrote her dissertation under the supervision of Gérard Mourou.

In 1985, Strickland and Mourou published the technique they had developed known as chirped pulse amplification (CPA), a method for amplifying ultrashort laser pulses to a very-high intensity (petawatt level).Afterwards, CPA was developed by others as the basis for the widespread use of small high-power laboratory laser systems, known as “table-top terawatt lasers.”

After graduating, Strickland was hired by the National Research Council of Canada in Ottawa (where she worked with Paul Corkum), by the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory in Livermore, California, and by the Advanced Technology Center for Photonics and Opto-electronic Materials at Princeton University.

In 1997, Strickland joined the University of Waterloo as a full professor. Strickland is the author or co-author of more than 110 peer-reviewed journal articles. In 2018, she and Mourou received the Nobel Prize in Physics.

Academic Website

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