Winning and Women…

…by Sophie / from the United Kingdom / studies PhD Tissue Repair / 4th Year


As one of the shortlisted fourteen for the MRC Max Perutz prize, I got to go a writing masterclass and an awards ceremony in London this month. I was one of the runners-up (yay!), which was amazing and meant a comedy-sized cheque I’m not sure I can take to Halifax. See the pictures, read all the entries and spot how well the three runners up and winner co-ordinated our outfits  (blue florals and plain red.) Here’s a great picture of me with some important people in my life! On the left is one of my supervisors Anna Williams, who made the trip from Edinburgh during the day just to support me, returning on the sleeper train to run her clinic in the morning! On my other side are my husband and mum who I couldn’t be doing any of this without.

The whole day organised by the MRC was excellent, with an afternoon learning from Dr Claire Ainsworth, former features editor of Nature and New Scientist and co-founder of SciConnect Ltd . Here’s a snap of me and Karolina, the other SCRM PhD student who was also shortlisted; we had a cracking view over London during the session. The evening got us all back together for prizes and prosecco. It was pretty interesting to see how the majority of those shortlisted were female, a fact that was commented on by one of the speakers at the event. It was also interesting to see that all the speakers were older men, though it is true that other members of the judging panel were women. Discussing this with a couple of others we talked about how we were lucky to have role models like our supervisors, why we see an imbalance not at the lower levels of academia but we do at the upper levels and how things might change. It’s a really pertinent topic at the moment and one I’d probably need to write a whole piece about some other time.

The day after the ceremony, waiting for our train, I convinced my non-sciencey mum and husband to come into the Wellcome collection where I nerded out with the full printed human genome, the artwork made of pills carved into the organ which they are designed to treat and a fairly disturbing set of medical instruments. One of my favourite facts about Henry Wellcome is that his wife absolutely hated his mad collecting habit and after they got divorced she became famous for her minimalist interior design. With a couple of million weird things that currently fill warehouses around London, you can see why she went to the other extreme.

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