Women in research
We’ve nurtured and celebrated women’s achievements from our earliest beginnings as Portsmouth Municipal College.
The suffragette Elsie Hooper blazed a trail here in the early 1900s, teaching the science of plants as medicine to our pharmacy students. Elsie was the first woman to receive two prestigious research awards: the Redwood Research Scholarship and the Pharmaceutical Society’s Burroughs Scholarship. Elsie opened her own pharmacies in London where she employed and mentored female apprentices.
Over 100 years later, women continue to play a leading role in driving our ambitions and are carving out new knowledge and understanding in science, the humanities, technology, the arts and business.
The research conducted by our female scholars is varied, and covers the areas of health, security, the environment, the arts and crime. It is all breaking new ground and making a difference to what we know and how we live. Through their teaching, they’re inspiring a new generation to go further still.
An alumni of the University of Malawi, and formerly an economist for the Malawi National Economic Council and employee of the Malawi Ministry of Finance, Dr Lana Chikhungu’s research focuses on child and maternal health, gender and poverty alleviation in Sub-Saharan Africa with a focus on Malawi. As part of a team of researchers in the Portsmouth-Brawijaya Centre for Global Health, Population and Policy, Lana is analysing the 2015 Malawi Demographic and Health Survey data sets to uncover factors influencing violence against women in Malawi and the trends and patterns of child undernutrition in the country.
Astrophysicist, Jen Gupta, runs our physics schools outreach programme, supports researchers from the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation (ICG) to develop new ways to engage the public in research, and is a regular presenter on TV and radio, including co-hosting the BBC Radio 4 show Stranger Than Sci-Fi. Recognised by the Royal Astronomical Society as a leading female astronomer, Jen’s work centres around championing greater understanding of astronomy, and inspiring a new generation of scientists.
Dr Cressida Bowyer is a champion for cross-disciplinary research within the themes of sustainability and the environment, and health and wellbeing. As a lead researcher in the AIR Network project, Cressida is working towards innovative, participatory solutions to air pollution in Sub-Saharan Africa alongside her mission to help reduce plastic pollution in developing countries through arts-based projects with local communities.
Theoretical astrophysicist, Dr Claudia Maraston analyses big data using supercomputers to understand how stars and galaxies have evolved over billions of years. Professor Maraston holds the Royal Astronomical Society’s Eddington Medal for Astronomy for creating new models to better understand the mysteries of space. She is driven by the thrill of discovery, a passion to inspire others, and the certainty that all scientific research will be challenged – including her own.
PhD student Stella Ikwueze is a civil engineer researching the use of earth blocks as an affordable and sustainable material for the construction of homes. Her research could contribute to solving the housing deficit problem in developing countries. Stella is a member of the Nigerian Society of Engineers and the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria.
Forensic psychologist, Professor Becky Milne works in the area of criminal justice studies. She’s spent decades fine-tuning the psychology of questioning, helping improve how the UK fights crime. Professor Milne helps the police, fire service and paramedics with communication and interviewing skills using the latest knowledge and discoveries about memory, communication and decision-making. Her work makes interviewers more competent and ethical, helps cases get to court, and reduces the likelihood of miscarriages of justice.
Dr Juliane Kaminski is an expert in the evolution of social cognition. Her research into our understanding of others’ perception, knowledge, intentions, desires and beliefs uses a comparative approach, through observation of our closest living relatives, the great apes, and our closest living domesticated species, the domesticated dog. Juliane explores how different animals see the world and others as individuals, to ultimately understand how that is different (or similar) to how we as humans understand our environment.
Dr Erika Hughes was inspired to help society understand, support and mend the mental wounds of war veterans after seeing her brother struggle when he returned from fighting for his country. Dr Hughes puts veterans on stage to talk about their experience of war, from Vietnam, to Iraq and Afghanistan, helping them – and theatre audiences – to drop the ‘hero’ image. The project has so far helped more than 50 military veterans talk about their experiences while giving hundreds of members of the public a better understanding of the military and life in the armed forces.
Formerly a solicitor specialising in trusts and probate tax, Caroline Cox leads a team of academics working to tackle the illegal ivory trade. Caroline’s team worked with the UK Government and police forces to close a loophole that allowed the sale of illegal ivory, increasing the demand for elephant tusks worldwide. She also works with academics at the University of Botswana to investigate the effect the country’s shoot-to-kill policy for poachers has on ranger deaths after more than 400 rangers were killed by poachers in one year.
Judith Fletcher-Brown used her recovery from breast cancer to launch a new educational initiative to help some of the world’s poorest women win their own battles with the disease. She’s working with community nurses in India, a country with deep cultural taboos around cancer and the fastest growing incidence-rate of breast cancer in the world, to find engaging ways to reach women with information on self-examination and breast cancer treatment.
Traceability is one of the biggest problems facing today’s food and drink industry. Low profit margins force some stakeholders to cut corners while complex supply chains lead to mislabelled products. This damages consumer confidence and puts them at risk of unsafe products. Professor of Accounting, Lisa Jack, researches how the food industry sets up systems of traceability and how data analytics and machine learning make it easier for businesses in the food supply chain to address unsustainable and unethical practices.
PhD student Serena Cunsolo is a Marine Biologist at the beginning of her research career working on one of our planet’s most pressing problems – plastic pollution. Serena has worked on the team studying the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and is now turning her attention to microplastics. She looks at the journey plastic fragments from polyester clothes or microbeads in cosmetics make through the drains from our washing machines or sewage system to wastewater plants, rivers and seas.
Forensic psychologist Dr Claire Nee was one of the first people in the world to ask ex-offenders to re-enact their crimes in virtual reality. Her research throws a blinding light on the thorny question of how to protect our homes from crime. Dr Nee’s work is changing the way police and insurance companies advise people to avoid certain crimes and is bringing new techniques and approaches to those who rehabilitate criminals.
Dr Sianne Gordon-Wilson’s research in consumer behaviour builds on industry knowledge developed in brand management and innovation management roles for companies such as Nestle, United Biscuits, Birds Eye and Electrolux. Now on the editorial review board for the International Journal of Consumer Studies and the Journal of Consumer Behaviour, Sianne focuses on sustainable behaviour, sustainable consumption, consumer behaviour, personality traits and identity.
Dr Carmen Solana is a volcanologist – a geologist who studies volcanoes. She specialises in hazards caused by ‘effusive’ volcanism, which is when lava flows steadily out of a volcano. She researches how these fiery rivers move and behave, their speed and impact, and recovery costs and evacuation times. As well as monitoring active volcanoes and helping to forecast eruptions, Carmen investigates, maps and models the perceptions, effects and impacts of hurricanes, landslides and tsunamis. Her research reduces the devastating impact of volcanoes and other natural disasters on populations all around the world.