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Award for mentoring females in science

Award for mentoring females in science

Dr Roslyn Kemp from the University of Otago has been named this year’s winner of the Association for Women in the Sciences (AWIS) Miriam Dell Award, for her work inspiring female immunologists across Australasia.

Roslyn, a senior lecturer in the University’s Department of Microbiology and Immunology, was recognised with the Award for her work with students and for instigating the Women’s Initiative of the Australasian Society for Immunology. A major component of the Initiative is to provide mentorship opportunities for female immunologists at all stages of their career, coordinated and managed by Roslyn. Since its introduction in December 2013, more than 85 mentors have been added to the programme, and more than 25 mentoring relationships established.

“Roslyn has an outstanding ability to inspire female students at graduate and postgraduate level,” says Dr Joanna Kirman, who nominated her for the Award. “As an undergraduate teacher she is exceptional, and this has contributed to a dramatic increase in the number of female students in Immunology in recent years. She has an inclusive and unselfish approach to mentoring, with a special emphasis on supporting young female Maori students into postgraduate study. Roslyn is a consistently strong and enthusiastic mentor for women in science, and I believe she has made a significant, tangible difference to many careers.”

Dr Alec Mackay, a scientist at AgResearch in Palmerston North, has also been Highly Commended by the Judges of the Award, for his mentoring of female scientists at all stages of their careers.

The Judges were particularly impressed with his work mentoring of female post-graduate students as well as students at Palmerston North Girls’ High School, where he has worked with teams of students undertaking the Royal Society’s CREST programme.

“Alec is generous with his time in providing guidance to his mentees on developing leadership and communication skills, both of which contribute greatly to their development as engaged, relevant and influential scientists,” says Fleur Maseyk, a PhD student at the University of Queensland supervised by Alec. “Alec’s mentorship inspires those who work with him to realise their full potential as scientists, to be the drivers of science that makes a difference, to explore creative avenues for communicating their science, and to become influential and innovative in their field.”

The Judging Panel received fourteen nominations for the Award including scientists at universities and Crown Research Institutes from across New Zealand.

“The Judging Panel were very impressed with the calibre of nominations and it is wonderful to see so many scientists inspiring young females into the field,” says Emma Timewell, National Convenor of AWIS. “Roslyn and Alec demonstrated mentorship that went beyond that expected in their roles as managers and supervisors of students, finding additional ways to support females with an interest in science. We’re very pleased to be able to recognise both of them for their inspiration and support of women in science.”

The Miriam Dell Award for Excellence in Science Mentoring was introduced in 2013 and is awarded on a biennial basis to someone who demonstrates outstanding mentoring efforts to retain females in science, mathematics or technology. Nominees can be from any part of the science system – including teachers at primary or secondary schools, lecturers or supervisors in tertiary education, or from commercial science-based organisations. They may have mentored, formally or informally, females at any stage in their career – from school age to the science workforce.

The Award is named for Dame Miriam Dell, Patron of AWIS, botanist, secondary school teacher and advocate for women’s advancement. The first recipient of the Award, in 2013, was Dr Judith O’Brien of the University of Auckland.


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