Welcome to the inaugural Nova Prize, supported and sponsored by EY and The Tab.
The Nova Prize is a set of six annual awards, bestowed across several categories in recognition of female students who have made outstanding early contributions to STEM. From hundreds of entries, we selected five exceptional women from each category, who we put in front of a panel of expert academics to choose the winners.
The six winners were announced on Wednesday 7th November at EY London, and will each receive a prize of £1,000.
Postdoctoral Research Associate, Dept. of Physics, Imperial College London
Dr. Jess Wade completed her PhD at Imperial College, where she now works on organic light emitting diodes that emit circularly polarised light. To achieve this, she creates chiral nanostructures out of carbon-based materials. Jess believes that when it comes to nanoscale molecular engineering, nature is the expert and we humans are only just catching up.
Recently, she won the Institution of Materials, Minerals and Mining’s Robert Perrin Award 2017, the Imperial College Dame Julia Higgins Certificate 2017 and the IOP Daphne Jackson Medal and Prize 2018.
Jess has also been involved in several projects to improve gender inclusion in science, as well as encouraging more young people to study science and engineering. She sits on the committee of the Institute of Physics’ Women in Physics Group, and is on the Council of the Women’s Engineering Society and Women in Science & Engineering Young Women’s Board.
Dr. Priyanka Dhopade
Senior Research Associate at the Oxford Thermofluids Institute, Dept. of Engineering Science, University of Oxford
Dr Priyanka Dhopade is a Senior Research Associate at the Oxford Thermofluids Institute (Department of Engineering Science) at Oxford University. Her research expertise is in the field of jet engine thermodynamics and fluid mechanics. She currently develops computational models for cooling systems in modern jet engines, in collaboration with industry and academia.
In 2017, she was chosen as one of the UK’s ‘Top 50 Women In Engineering Under 35.’ She also leads various initiatives to promote diversity in STEM, including the Women in Engineering network at Oxford University.
Dr. Karen Stroobants
Postdoctoral Researcher, Centre for Misfolding Diseases, Dept. of Chemistry, University of Cambridge
Dr. Karen Stroobants moved to the UK initially to conduct research on the molecular basis of Alzheimer’s disease in the Dobson group at the Department of Chemistry, University of Cambridge. For her work here she received a Marie Sklodowska-Curie fellowship from the European Commission and a Raymond & Beverly Sackler By-Fellowship at Churchill College. Prior to this she obtained her PhD in Chemistry at KU Leuven in Belgium.
Throughout her academic career, Karen has been actively involved in science policy exchange activities and was president of the Cambridge University Science and Policy Exchange initiative in 2017-2018. She is a strong advocate for female leadership and was invited as a participant of the 2018 Women and Global Leadership Forum at Trinity College in Cambridge, after being featured earlier in 2018 as one of the Cambridge women campaigning for gender equality in science.
Professor Krasimira Tsaneva-Atanasova
Professor of Mathematics for Healthcare, Associate Dean (International and Development), College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Science, University of Exeter
After obtaining her MsC in Mathematics in Bulgaria and then her PhD in Applied Mathematics in New Zealand, Professor Krasimira Tsaneva-Atanasova trained further as a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institutes of Health in the US and École Normale Supérieure in Paris, before getting an academic position in the UK. She spent six years at the University of Bristol before joining the University of Exeter in 2013, where she currently holds a personal chair in Mathematics for Healthcare.
In May 2017, Krasimira was named one of the top 10 most inspirational female scientists working today by The Metro. It is the beauty of mathematics and its applications which Krasimira enjoys and attempts to share in every occasion with her students, colleagues and, whenever there is an opportunity, the public.
End-to-End Service Design & Systems Thinking Director at Lloyds Banking Group
A firm believer that there’s always another way to look at a challenge, Alberta has been hacking things to make them work better for humans since she was a child. As End-to-End (E2E) Service Design and Systems Thinking Director at Lloyds Banking Group, she leads a team of service designers and systems thinkers who focus on the creation and delivery of future-friendly services and customer outcomes that are rooted in systemic understanding and deliver value.
Prior to Lloyds, Alberta was Experience Design Director at digital agencies in London and at UCLA in California. She has a long track record of leading strategic projects for global brands, including Oracle, UCLA, BUPA, The Co-operative Group, EDF and Nuffield Health. Alberta is driven by the opportunity to make a real impact on outcomes for both people and the organization, by looking after the big picture as well as paying attention to the very small things that, she says, “matter a lot”.
Dr. Stefanie Reichelt
Head of Light Microscopy at Cancer Research UK, University of Cambridge
Since 2005, Dr. Stefanie Reichelt has established and leads the light microscopy group at the Cancer Research UK (CRUK) Cambridge Institute. Her research includes the development of new imaging techniques for cancer research & diagnostics.
Before joining CRUK, she worked at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology on the innovation of confocal and multiphoton laser scanning microscopes. Stefanie was one of the key consultants for the commercialisation of these systems through Bio-Rad Microsciences.
Stefanie lectures at Cambridge and supervises PhD and masters students. She is also the founder and organiser of a new network for technology platforms at Cambridge (CTPN.co.uk). Additionally, Stefanie is the founder and curator of ArtCell Gallery, an exhibition space on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus.
Elisha has volunteered tutoring mathematics to underprivileged children and adults looking to pass their GCSEs. Additionally, Elisha also conducts her own research within group theory and its many applications in cryptography, physics and chemistry. Elisha also studies factoring algorithms and their applications in cryptography, which is fundamental in keeping data secure online.
Lisa Maria Kreusser
PhD Mathematics, 4th year
University of Cambridge
Since her undergraduate studies, Lisa has been recognised for academic excellence in mathematics with several long-term independent scholarships, including an honorary Cambridge University Vice-Chancellor's Award and from the German Academic Scholarship Foundation. Her prolific output earned her the prestigious Smith-Knight & Rayleigh-Knight Prizes in 2017. Lisa has also been selected as one of the 200 most qualified young researchers in mathematics and computer science from around the world to attend the 6th Heidelberg Laureate Forum in 2018.
Chemical Engineering, 1st year
University College London
Last year, Maria completed a biostatistics research placement to address one of the prevalent issues of ageing – losing stability and balance. The idea was to introduce a measure of mobility to determine what healthy ageing looks like. Using a large and wide age range sample allowed Maria to fit the best model to predict how our stability varies. Having completed the project, Maria hopes to establish a form of a measure of mobility.
MEng Marine Technology with Naval Architecture, intercalating year between stage 2 and 3 Newcastle
Verity is currently on her intercalating year working on the Royal Navy’s ships. Using visualisation tools, Verity has been analysing structural defect and repair data in order to predict where intervention will be needed in the future on similar ships, and to make savings by better planning and targeted change.
PhD Mathematics, 3rd year University of Nottingham
Katie is the Women in Maths Ambassador at the University of Nottingham, and works hard to increase representation of women in the field. Katie has organised seminars with female mathematicians, and has participated in many outreach events which encourage girls to pursue careers in STEM. Katie is also extremely passionate about her own research on statistical analysis of manifold valued data and has spoken at multiple events.
BSc Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence, 3rd year
University of Sussex
Alice’s research in animal-computer interaction aimed to create technology for assistance dogs. She spent the summer designing intuitive tech for animals, whether it’s a button to open a door, use a lift or cross the street. Alice also conducted and designed a study in canine usability, which resulted in the writing of two papers which hope to be published. This study has also paved the way for Alice to receive a scholarship for a PhD in Human-Computer Interaction.
BSc (Hons) Cyber Security Management, 3rd year
Sophia has received several achievements in the cyber security field, including representing the UK twice in the European Cyber Security Challenge, and being recently awarded the “Best Newcomer to Cyber Security” at the end of last year by the government-backed programme Cyber Security Challenge UK. She also frequently delivers cyber security talks around the country at schools and different events, including at the international security conference, “BSides”, in London this year.
MSc Information Technology, 1st year Robert Gordon University
Anastasia is currently conducting research on machine learning and sentiment analysis to develop a solution that would help people with anxiety and OCD have a better online experience when using Instagram. Specifically, it would identify and eliminate content which could be triggering or upsetting. To achieve this, Anastasia is working towards developing an algorithm which uses sentiment analysis to determine the attitude of a user with respect to a topic. The algorithm would then eliminate undesired content, based on the gathered data.
Politics, 2018 graduate The University of Edinburgh
Self-taught software engineer Nathalia is a mentor at the Boeing Summer Coding School. She has been invited to speak at the European Parliament in October to debate the future of STEM education in Europe, and to lobby for innovative and inclusive coding programmes in policy-making alongside Think-Young, a think tank in Brussels. She also founded and presided over the Edinburgh Women in Tech Conference, the first student-run conference shedding light on this theme in Scotland. She also runs the Instagram account @yeahgirlscode in the hope of making STEM content visible to people from non-traditional backgrounds.
Biomedical Sciences, 2018 graduate
The University of Sheffield
During university, Pauline helped teach over 200 female students, with little-to-no coding background, how to build their first website or web application. She not only passed on her own self-taught technical knowledge, but also built an empowering community where she led in getting students involved in the tech industry. Pauline also organised a medical Hackathon, HackMed, where students were given the resources to build something in 24 hours. Inclusion was her main goal in organising this – the Hackathon was a huge success and saw an even number of female and male attendees.
PhD Biological Sciences, 3rd year
University of Liverpool
As an undergraduate, Caisey discovered that venomous snakes could carry salmonella, allowing her to present at two international conferences and to a win a Wellcome-Trust funded internship. In her PhD, Caisey is researching a largely-unreported epidemic of multidrug-resistant salmonella which causes bloodstream infections, responsible for 388,000 deaths each year in Africa. Caisey has worked in research centres in the UK, Malawi, Paris and London.
Biological Sciences, 3rd year
Imperial College London
Eszter’s first project aimed to identify the genes in fruit flies involved in motor dysfunctions, which could help in the treatment of serious and common neural diseases. Another project Eszter worked on involved neural circuits of mice. Antibodies can attach to proteins and give different colours to specific cell types in the brain, so Eszter’s job was to find out which antibody is the easiest to use at given regions. This process could reveal important information about neural networks and how exactly the brain works.
PhD Natural Sciences and Psychology, 1st year Liverpool John Moores University
Chloe’s background is in forensic anthropology and determining biological profiles from skeletons. Her master’s research allowed her to expand her knowledge into the field of forensic entomology – the study of insects in regards to legal matters. Chloe is particularly interested in how insects colonise the corpse and how they can be used in time since death estimations, and currently, her research focuses on how maggot development is influenced by the decomposition of tissues.
DPhil Interdisciplinary Bioscience Doctoral Training Programme, 4th year Oxford University
Lydia’s work has focussed on the crossover between biology and physics, and hopes to find inspiration for new bio-inspired technology. During her undergraduate, Lydia ran behavioural experiments into bumblebee vision and was awarded a grant to continue her research alongside her undergraduate degree. She was awarded a scholarship to study for her PhD at Oxford, during which she qualified as a falconer. Now in her final year, Lydia researches bird flight mechanics and their precise control during landing. Her research into visually guided flight behaviours could provide invaluable insight for future autonomous vehicles.
MBChB Medicine, 4th year University of Sheffield
Sarah was named the UK’s Young Scientist of the Year for her research into a new treatment for cystic fibrosis, and was named as one of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in Science in Europe. She is a strong advocate for youth involvement in science, specifically young women, and frequently contributes to student blogs advocating for healthcare inequalities. She is currently pioneering an international research exchange to allow students to experience research globally, fostering the importance of international collaboration in research.
PhD Chemistry and Microbiology, 2nd year
University of Sheffield
Kirsty has synthesised a set of new antimicrobial complexes that have a higher activity than clinically available antibiotics, and retain their high activities against microbial-resistant strains. She has discovered that the compounds are more active on dangerous Gram-negative bacteria, something that is rare and highly desirable. This is especially good, as the compounds Kirsty has synthesised are both multi-strain active and active against the two bacteria identified by the World Health Organisation as Priority 1:CRITICAL.
PhD Chemistry, 1st year
University of Nottingham
Ellen’s research is in drug discovery – but does not involve the traditional “lab-coat” image of chemistry. Using computer programmes, Ellen simulates what is happening to the proteins in our body, to find new treatments for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a progressive lung disease with a poor prognosis. In addition to her research, Ellen takes part in a variety of STEM outreach events, from delivering workshops in schools to helping organise the 2018 Pint of Science Festival.
MChem Pharmaceutical Chemistry, 4th year University of Leicester
Emily spent her industrial placement at AGFA in Belgium, developing an adhesive coating on ID cards. Emily’s project was a success, resulting in the production of an adhesive layer which is currently undergoing patent applications and being preliminarily distributed to customers around the world. The adhesive Emily developed is the first ever successful waterborne adhesive suitable for use in ID cards, bank cards and driving licences. The vast benefits of using a water-based product instead of a solvent variation include environmental benefits, safer production and financial gains.
MChem Chemistry with a year in industry, 4th year University of York
Melissa was awarded funding from the Wellcome Trust for her project, which is focused on the addition of an unnatural reactive group to a variety of molecules at a specific position. Currently, Melissa is undertaking an industrial placement at the John Innes Centre, where her research area is natural product biosynthesis. This is the study of compounds produced by bacteria in nature. Melissa and her team are seeking to unlock the potential of these naturally occurring antibiotics.
PhD Chemistry, 3rd year
University of Strathclyde
In the final year of her PhD, Hannah is researching protein degradation as an innovative platform for drug discovery, and its development promises to lead to the next generation of medicines. As part of her research, Hannah has attended multiple national and international conferences to share her science, and has been awarded a number of communication prizes for scientific excellence. She is also about to publish her second journal article on her research.
PhD Material Science and Radiation, 3rd year Cranfield University
Kerrie’s research focuses on tools that could be used during the verification of the dismantlement of nuclear weapons. This project has developed a promising technology to verify that a key step of the dismantlement process has taken place – the separation of explosive materials from fissile ones. Kerrie presented her work in the Houses of Parliament after being shortlisted for the STEM4BRITAIN Awards in 2018.
MPhys Physics with Astronomy, 3rd year
University of Southampton
Courtney won the Future Industry Leaders Award after programming a life jacket capable of measuring the heart rate, temperature and GPS location of the wearer. In April 2018, Courtney spent two weeks in Tenerife designing a space telescope to measure terrestrial gamma ray flashes – a phenomena that occurs in the upper atmosphere after lightning. Next year, Courtney plans to go to Harvard for her master’s.
Maria Flavia Cicala
PhD Particle Physics, 1st year
University of Warwick
Maria’s work has contributed to dark matter research. Maria analysed data from trial runs of the dark matter experiment DarkSide, performed to simulate the presence of dark matter particles. The purpose of these runs was to test the instrument and study its response. Her results were paramount in understanding how DarkSide behaves in presence of dark matter. They are now used to drive the analysis of data sets from runs aiming to detect dark matter.
Physics and Mathematics, 3rd year St Andrews
For the past year, Emily has held a full-time position within a research group at her university, where she built a measurement system for characterising the light emitted from organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) at different viewing angles. OLEDs are light sources which are already widely used for display applications, such as the tiny pixels in mobile phones. It is important to ensure that these pixels are as energy-efficient as possible, therefore Emily’s project could have real-world implications.
Physics, 3rd year
Chloe is currently developing a business idea centred around using satellite data for city renovation. Her research was judged by a panel of professionals, including representatives from the UK and European space agencies, as well as Amazon, and was asked to present her research at the annual space conference in Manchester. Chloe has also been a finalist in the Big Bang competition for her research on thermoelectric technology and its possible applications in clothing – as part of this, she created a working thermoelectric generator that could charge three phones simultaneously.
Mechanical Engineering, 3rd year University of Surrey
Over the past 14 months, Lucy has been designing and building a solar powered car at Ardingly College Solar, as part of her industrial placement. Recently, this car participated in the iLumen European Solar Challenge, a 24-hour race for solar powered cars, proving their capability as a viable form of transport. On top of her work in producing the car, Lucy also teaches and mentors around 50 students at Ardingly College who help on the solar car project. The next challenge for Lucy and the team is the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge in 2019, which is a 3,000 km race across Australia, using solar power alone.
Gladys C. Ngetich
PhD Engineering Science (Aerospace), 3rd year
University of Oxford
Gladys, a Rhodes scholar, is based at the Oxford Thermofluids Institute, researching advanced cooling schemes for jet engines. Her research has been featured in top articles including BBC Science, Oxford Science Blog, Beyond Boundary Project, Kenya’s Daily Nation and Business Daily. She has been named the UK’s Rare Rising Star for her inspirational academic journey, and was also a finalist in the 2018 Amelia Earhart Fellowship. In September 2018, she was named one of Kenya’s Top 40 Under 40 Women for her success in the male-dominated STEM fields.
PhD Computer Vision & Machine Learning, 3rd year
University of Oxford
Daniela’s research looks at how artificial intelligence and machine learning can help visually-impaired people. For her project, Daniela is developing a chat-bot, similar to Siri, but one that can see. The idea is that this bot will help visually-impaired people navigate their way around the world by answering their questions. To do this, Daniela is building computer vision models, which teach computers to “see” the world by identifying objects and people in images, and natural language processing models, which teach computers to communicate via language as humans do. The next stage of her project will be to deploy these models on smart-glasses and smartphones.
Medical Engineering, 3rd year Cardiff University
After working on projects involving microcontrollers on her industrial placement, Angelina was inspired to apply this technology to prosthetics. Her project entails building a complimentary AI device for prostheses to develop the selection of existing grips, allowing users to cheaply adapt their prosthetics for certain functions when desired. After further development, Angelina’s device will offer those with restricted mobility a solution to explore new hobbies without concern that their prosthetic will be limiting.
MEng Mechanical Engineering, 4th year
Sheffield Hallam University
Jodie was named one of 2017's Top 50 Women in Engineering, and has won a place at the highly-competitive International Space University next year. This summer on an internship in South Africa, she developed oxygen and suction supply equipment for hospitals worldwide. On her placement year at Rolls-Royce, Jodie helped design components for UltraFan, a future jet engine that is 25% more fuel efficient than today’s standard. Because of her vast contributions to engineering, Jodie is already a professionally registered engineer – unheard of for a student.