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.
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.
Areas of Specialization: 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, 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.
Areas of Specialization: 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, University of London, 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.
Areas of Specialization: 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 of Berlin. 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.
Areas of Specialization: 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.
Areas of Specialization: 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 roles 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.
Areas of Specialization: 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 BA in chemistry from Harvard University and a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley.
Bertozzi is perhaps most famous for being considered as the founder of biorthogonal 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.
Areas of Specialization: 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 Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 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.
Areas of Specialization: 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.
Areas of Specialization: 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, 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.
Areas of Specialization: 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.
Areas of Specialization: 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.
Areas of Specialization: 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 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.
Areas of Specialization: Computational Complexity Theory, Cryptography, Number Theory
Shafrira “Shafi” Goldwasser is the RSA Professor of Computer Science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 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, 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.
Areas of Specialization: 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.
Areas of Specialization: Hypermedia, Web Science
Hall is Regius 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.
Areas of Specialization: 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 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.
Areas of Specialization: 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.
Areas of Specialization: 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 at the University of California, San Diego.
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.
Areas of Specialization: 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.
Areas of Specialization: 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.
Areas of Specialization: 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.
Areas of Specialization: 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.
Areas of Specialization: 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.
Areas of Specialization: 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.
Areas of Specialization: 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 Massachusetts Institute of Technology 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.
Areas of Specialization: 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.
Areas of Specialization: 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 UCL Institute of Education (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.
Areas of Specialization: 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.
Areas of Specialization: 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.
Areas of Specialization: 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.
Areas of Specialization: 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 .
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.
Areas of Specialization: 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).
Areas of Specialization: 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.
Areas of Specialization: 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, UCL Institute of Education, 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.
Areas of Specialization: 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 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.
Areas of Specialization: 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, University of Cambridge. 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.
Areas of Specialization: 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 University of Rochester 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.”