Inspiring Swansea University Pro-Vice-Chancellor crowned STEM Pioneer Champion

Professor Lappin-Scott, Senior Pro-Vice-Chancellor at Swansea University was last night awarded the individual Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Pioneer Award in the Chwarae Teg Womenspire Awards.

The Womanspire Awards celebrate the amazing achievements made by women across Wales. They include a wide range of categories to ensure that the winners will be reflective of the achievements being made by women from all walks of life.

Professor Lappin-Scott‘s award recognises her personal and professional work to develop opportunities for women in STEM. Hilary works tirelessly to inspire, support and encourage women in STEM at all levels locally, nationally and internationally.

The Womanspire Awards judges said: “Hilary has had a major impact on gender diversity in STEM in Wales. Passionate about her work, she has changed perceptions and been a figure of influence across generations.”

‌Hilary, a Professor of Microbiology, has been a scientist for over 30 years and has supervised fifty PhD students to their successful completion and has published 200+ scientific papers. Her work is recognized as internationally excellent e.g. she received the prestigious Schlumberger Stichting Award.

Hilary with Womanspire award

Hilary is the Vice President of the Federation of European Microbiological Societies, steering the development of the discipline on a global scale. She plays numerous leadership (UK wide and international) roles within STEM, shaping the future direction of research, supporting the international networking of scientists and the exchange of scientific ideas for the benefit of the global scientific community.

At Swansea University Hilary leads, directs and supports the progress of STEM through her current role as Senior-Pro-Vice-Chancellor.

Recently Prof Lappin-Scott devised the “Utilising All Our Talent” initiative at Swansea University, which established a senior group of female staff, facilitating both networking and support. For International Women’s Day 2015 she created the “Inspiring Women” campaign, whereby women from all areas and careers stages are showcased and celebrated, with STEM women well represented throughout and devised the Mary Williams Award which recognises staff who supports others to achieve their full potential. Hilary co-authored  the Welsh Government paper ‘Talented Women for a Successful Wales' and delivered a TEDXTalk, which discussed the barriers girls face and challenges they need to overcome when entering the STEM arena.

In 2014 Hilary brought “Soapbox Science” a public outreach platform promoting female scientists, from London to Swansea to challenge the public’s perception of women as scientists too, and inspiring the next generation of female scientists. She also attracted the very successful British Science Festival to Wales which Swansea University not only hosted last year but also provided the impetus for the Swansea University Science Festival being held in September this year.  

Hilary received the 2016 WISE Campaign “Hero” award in recognition of “her passion about change on a global level and without boundaries. The award citation said that Hilary was “Busy, visible and creative and she brings together science and industry to improve lives.”

Upon receiving her award Professor Lappin-Scott said: “'I am absolutely delighted and humbled to receive the Individual STEM Pioneer award from Chwarae Teg Womenspire awards, against such a competitive field. It's gratifying to see this as part of a wider global initiative to increase the visibility of the achievements of female scientists.  I know that this makes a difference to both schoolgirls and women who are early career scientists, that they see that women's contributions are valued'. 

Speaking about Hilary’s Womanspire Award Professor Richard B Davies Vice Chancellor, Swansea University said: “As a highly respected scientist and a Senior Pro-Vice-Chancellor at Swansea University, Hilary has a demanding and hectic schedule.  But her infectious enthusiasm for science never falters and it is hugely to her credit that she always manages to find the time to encourage and support other women to have successful careers in science.  She also makes important strategic contributions, nationally and internationally, to addressing the under-representation and retention of women in STEM.  This includes policy development, conference contributions, and membership of advisory and review panels. 

“I thank Chwarae Teg for giving Hilary the opportunity, through her Womenspire Award, to champion here in Wales the opportunities for women in STEM.” 

Chwarae Teg received over 300 nominations across the 12 categories recognising the extraordinary achievements many individuals and organisations have made in leading equality in their industry such as business, arts, sports, STEM, rural and education. 

Picture credit: Matthew Horwood