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Showcasing women in science

275. Nathalie Pettorelli
274. Seirian Sumner

A dynamic duo who founded ‘Soapbox Science’, an initiative that takes science out of the labs and highlights the work of women in cutting edge research.

10 Downing Street

Seirian Sumner, a senior lecturer in behavioural biology at the University of Bristol and Nathalie Pettorelli, a research fellow at the Institute of Zoology, founded Soapbox Science when they realised that there should be more positive and inspirational female role models in science. Both women had met world-leading female researchers and academics in their jobs, but felt that the public face of science can still seem dominated by men. Seiran and Nathalie passionately believe that girls and young women who are thinking of careers in science benefit from hearing first hand success stories of female scientists.

Soapbox Science, founded in 2010, brings together the UK’s top female academics to talk about science in public places. Over 2,800 people have attended the free public lectures and this year is the busiest series of events for the team, with seven events across the UK and over xx female scientists taking part. The events are designed to make women in research more visible to the public and within the profession.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

“Through Soapbox Science, Seiran and Nathalie have inspired scores of successful female scientists throughout the country to get out onto the streets and encourage girls to learn more about the opportunities open to them through science. I’m delighted that thousands of people can look to these women as role models and am delighted to award them with a Points of Light award.”

Seirian’s local MP, Ed Vaizey said:

“I am very proud of my constituent Seirian Sumner and her invaluable work in encouraging women to engage more with STEM subjects. Points of Light recognise outstanding individual volunteers, and her work in making women in science more visible to the public fits perfectly with the stated goals of the award. Through founding Soapbox Science, Seirian has made female scientists more visible, both to the public and within the profession, and I commend her for it.”

Soapbox Science will hold its first Newcastle event this Saturday 27 June from 1-4pm around the Monument area in central Newcastle and will feature a team from Newcastle University. More information on the speakers can be found at

The Soapbox Science website also provides a blog written by female scientists including chemists, astrophysicists, marine biologists – all with a passion for sharing their research with people.

The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.

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