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Celebrating Queen Mary Women in Science

The UN International Day of Women and Girls in Science (11 February) aims to recognise the critical role women and girls play in science and technology communities. 

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Queen Mary students in a laboratory
Queen Mary students in a laboratory

On this day, we’re celebrating some of our students, staff and alumni from across the Faculty of Science and Engineering who are making a difference to their fields and helping to inspire the next generation of girls and women into STEM careers.  

School of Physics and Astronomy – Jasneet Taak

Jasneet studied Physics at Queen Mary and graduated in 2019. Since leaving Queen Mary Jasneet has co-founded an educational platform called Accelerate, which is a student-led outreach STEM initiative that provides useful tips and advice, updates students on career opportunities and helps mentor the leaders of tomorrow. Accelerate primarily focuses on educating BAME students who are pursuing STEM based degrees and related career paths. 

Our biggest aim is to improve the representation of BAME students in universities and diversify the workforce.

Jasneet Taak“We hope Accelerate will help achieve a connection with as many students as possible to help offer advice and guidance during their all-important early years. We aim to create a supportive and inclusive community of mentors and mentees, which is especially important given the current climate.”

Find out more about Jasneet on our Alumni blog


School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science – Oishi Deb

Oishi Deb is one of our 2020-2021 DeepMind Scholars and is currently studying for her MSc in AI at the School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science. Following her undergraduate degree in Software and Electronics Engineering with industry Oishi worked at Rolls-Royce as a Software Engineer. She’s a keen STEM ambassador and her interest in promoting STEM to the younger generation has taken her to some interesting places, including NATO’s 2018 Communication and Information Agency conference in Belgium, where she was a panellist on a session around ‘Attracting Diverse Talent.’

I'm interested in AI because of the vast potential this technology has towards impacting society in a positive way.

Oishi Deb“As a DeepMind scholar, I get the opportunity to network with people at DeepMind and talk about research happening in AI and machine learning, which is definitely one of the highlights of the programme for me. As a society, I feel strongly that there should be a culture of empowering people and I believe the DeepMind Scholarship is a good example of that.” 

Meet our current DeepMind Scholars.


School of Biological and Chemical Sciences – Dr Lesley Howell

Dr Lesley Howell is Senior Lecturer in Pharmaceutical and Medicinal Chemistry at the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences. Her research looks at protein-protein interactions, in particular G-protein coupled receptors and their dimerization, and investigates how they can be used as drug targets. Recently, in collaboration with the McCormick group at Queen Mary's William Harvery Research Institute, she has helped uncover a new therapeutic target for Huntington's disease- an inherited condition that stops parts of the brain working properly over time

I enjoy being able to share and impart some knowledge and hopefully inspire our students. 

Dr Lesley Howell (left) supporting Queen Mary's Festival of Communities eventShe teaches on modules for both undergraduates and postgraduate at Queen Mary and was recently awarded Westfield funding to develop and implement mixed reality technology to create a suite of virtual lab resources and activities to support learning of current and prospective students. Dr Howell said: “I enjoy being able to share and impart some knowledge and hopefully inspire our students. I enjoy how diverse the student population is here - the different backgrounds students have in terms of the qualifications they are coming to Queen Mary with and their backgrounds socially as well.”

Read more about Dr Lesley Howell in this Meet the Lecturer article.


School of Mathematical Sciences - Diana Akanho

Diana Akanho studied Mathematics and Statistics at Queen Mary. She now works as Senior Insight Manager at Tech Nation and is also a Committee Member for Women in Data UK – a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to encouraging and promoting women in Data Science at every stage of their careers.

My personal mission is to be an advocate as a woman who studied a STEM subject and to show what possibilities are available in terms of different roles and careers for women.

Diana Akhano speaking at an eventDiana said: “The vision of the organisation is to create gender parity within STEM subjects through presentations and talks. We like to talk about how ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’ and to make women realise that there are women working in careers that they may have thought were previously off limits to them.”

You can also find out more Diana on our Alumni blog.


School of Engineering and Materials Science- Dr Petra Szilágyi

Dr Petra Szilágyi is a lecturer in Functional Materials at Queen Mary and currently leads the Advanced Functional Hybrid Materials research group who are conducting research into making porous functional materials for energy and environmental applications in a sustainable way, for example by using waste. Her focus on energy and sustainability has led Dr Szilágyi to carry out research in topics ranging from green methods to remove dyes from wastewaters to hydrogen storage.

I hope that my story will add to theirs and help inspire and motivate girls to embark on STEM careers.

Dr Petra SzilágyiIn 2020 she was recognised as one of the Women’s Engineering Society (WES) Top 50 Women in Engineering. On receiving the award Dr Szilágyi, said: “I am extremely proud to be in the illustrious company of previous and current WES Top 50 awardees and I hope that my story will add to theirs and help inspire and motivate girls to embark on STEM careers.”

“Throughout my career most of my research has revolved around energy and sustainability and I’m passionate about using interdisciplinary approaches to target these universal issues.”

Read more about Dr Szilágyi in our Engineering and Materials Science hub.


For media information, contact:

Sophie McLachlan
Faculty Communications Manager (Science and Engineering)
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