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Meet the Women of the Zepler Institute - Celebrating International Women's Day

Published: 23 March 2023

International Women’s Day (IWD) is a global day marked annually on March 8th to celebrate the achievements of women. Within the Zepler Institute (ZI), many of our women staff and students have driven major advances in the field of photonics. Research Fellow, Dr. Angeles Camacho Rosales, was named in Forbes' 100 Most Powerful Women in Mexico for two consecutive years because of her work in outreach and encouraging more diversity in the optics and photonics sector; Professor Anna Peacock was made a Fellow of Optica, the Institute of Physics, and the Higher Education Academy in recognition of her outstanding contributions to nonlinear optics and the development of novel material optical fibres; and Nikita Lack and her group won the Henry Royce Institute’s PhD Research Sandpit Challenge only 6 weeks after starting her PhD at the ZI. Within the ZI, women staff and students are working on world-leading research, ranging from the development of hollow core fibre technology to miniaturised sensors for environmental sensing.

In celebration of the contributions made by our women researchers, a networking event entitled ‘Meet the Women of the Zepler Institute’ was held to bring together women staff and students to discuss their work and to share their ideas in relation to encouraging equity at the ZI and across STEM more generally.

One of the event organisers, Dr. Natalie Wheeler, said: “I enjoyed the opportunity to meet women colleagues who work in diverse roles across the ZI, many of whom I don’t usually meet face-to-face. I think it is really important that we celebrate International Women’s Day and I am hoping that next year we can organise an even larger event where we can be inspired by the women in our community.”

Senior Research Fellow, Dr. Natasha Vukovic, also said: “It was nice to meet so many women of the ZI on International Women’s Day. The event was informal but heart-warming and cheerful. I hope that there will be more gatherings of this kind to help ZI women support each other and build strength and success.”

Women across the ZI also participated in interviews discussing the importance of encouraging young women into STEM subjects. In response, Senior Research Fellow, Dr. Thalia Dominguez Bucio said: “I think it is very important to get girls into STEM because often they are discouraged because of the things that society thinks a woman should do. Women and men think differently and we need that diversity in science in order to be able to drive science forward.”

PhD student Evangelia Founta explained that: “I think we should encourage the younger female generation to pursue a career in science because STEM skills are very valuable and important in the job market. It is very important to highlight also that a good engineer and a good scientist can be someone regardless of gender and we have seen many great examples throughout the years of female role models within the field who have achieved great accomplishments.”

Eleanor Osbourne, another PhD student, commented: “We know that women and girls tend to be underrepresented in STEM. Any group that is underrepresented it is a huge loss for research because you’re missing out on so many people who have different ideas and different experiences that they can bring to research and that makes research all the better for it.”

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