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Work in Progress? Churchillian Fellows of the Royal Society consider the place of women in the scientific community

Alumni, Master, Fellows and By-Fellows, Students,
Professor Dame Janet Thornton. Professor Dame Julia Kingssor Jenny Nelson. Professor Nicola Spaldin

08 Dec 2022

  • Start: 18:30
  • End: 20:00

Wellcome Trust Lecture Hall, The Royal Society, 6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AG

Join us at the Royal Society in London for a panel discussion featuring some of our women Fellows of the Royal Society, to be chaired by the Master, Professor Dame Athene Donald.

We will be offering this event in a hybrid format, meaning you can also watch the event live as a Zoom webinar. This event is free of charge whether attending in-person or online, but booking is essential, using the form at the bottom of the page where you can choose how you will attend.

Please note all event times in GMT.


Professor Dame Janet Thornton

Professor Dame Janet Thornton became an honorary Fellow of Churchill in 2020, having been a Fellow of the College since 2002. In 2001, she became Director of the European Bioinformatics Institute, which is part of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory. She is a pioneer of structural bioinformatics, using computational methods to understand protein structure and form. Her use of computer techniques to facilitate the organisation and analysis of biological data and to predict biological patterns and processes has been fundamental to the creation of the new science of bioinformatics. She remained Director until 2015, overseeing a major growth in the institute and a huge increase in the importance of bioinformatics and data resources in the life sciences. In 2015, Janet stepped down as Director to return to leading a small research group at EMBL-EBI.

Thornton is also a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, a member of EMBO a foreign associate of the US National Academy of Sciences and an honorary fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry. 

Professor Jenny Nelson

Honorary Fellow Jenny Nelson (U80) studied Natural Sciences at Churchill before moving to the University of Bristol, where she gained a PhD for the research on the optics of fractal clusters. She is a Professor of Physics at Imperial College London where her research is devoted to characterising the materials used to build and improve photovoltaic devices, which convert energy from the Sun into electricity. She applies a range of tools that include physical models, simulation and experiments to optimise the performance of such devices by controlling the properties of the constituent materials.

Jenny also works with the Grantham Institute – Climate Change and the Environment at Imperial to explore the mitigation potential of renewable energy technologies. Jenny was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 2014.

Professor Nicola Spaldin

Nicola Spaldin is an alumna (U88) and Honorary Fellow of Churchill College. She studied Natural Sciences at Churchill before moving to the University of California, Berkeley where she gained a PhD in Chemistry. She next worked as a postdoctoral researcher in the Applied Physics Department at Yale University, before moving back to California for a faculty position in Materials at UC Santa Barbara. Nicola joined ETH Zurich in 2011 and is the professor of materials theory. She developed the class of materials known as multiferroics, which combine simultaneous ferromagnetism and ferroelectricity, for which she received the 2017 L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science award among other honours. She is a passionate science educator, director of her department’s study program, and holder of the ETH Golden Owl Award for excellence in teaching.

Professor Dame Julia King (Baroness Brown of Cambridge)

Honorary Fellow Baroness Brown is an engineer, with a career spanning senior engineering and leadership roles in industry and academia. She was educated at New Hall where she graduated in Natural Sciences in 1975 followed by a PhD in Fracture Mechanics in 1978. She was a Fellow at Churchill College and the University of Cambridge from 1987 until 1994 when she moved to work for Rolls-Royce plc for 8 years, before returning to academia at Imperial College and as Vice Chancellor of Aston University. Her interests include climate change adaptation and mitigation and the low carbon economy. She chairs the Adaptation Committee of the UK’s Climate Change Committee, the Carbon Trust and is a non-executive director of Ørsted and Ceres Power. Julia is also passionate about ensuring every young person in the UK has an outstanding science education. She chairs STEM Learning, a not-for-profit company committed to supporting science teachers and industry and business engaged with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) in schools. She is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering and of the Royal Society and was awarded the DBE for services to higher education and technology. She is a crossbench peer and chairs the House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee.

Dress Code- Business attire