Oct
2013

Inaugural women in science awardee chosen

awis awardeeDr Judith O'Brien has been awarded the inaugural Miriam Dell Award by the Association in recognition of her outstanding contribution to mentoring female students and scientists.

Judy O'Brien began her career, after earning Bachelor and Master degrees in biology and a Diploma in Teaching, teaching science to high school students. In the 1980s, Judy became a part-time researcher and lecturer at The University of Auckland and a full time mother to four sons. In 2001, she was appointed Deputy Director (Academic) of the School of Biological Sciences (SBS), and is now Deputy Director of Development. Her current role focuses on recruitment and career support for staff and postgraduate students in the School, but she still lectures in a first year biology class and is involved in school outreach activities at the University, coordinating the Rotary National Science and Technology Forum at SBS as well as sitting as a member of the Liggins Educational Network for Science (LENScience) Advisory Board.

Dr Kate Angel, who nominated Judy for the award, says, "Judy is someone who gets things done, whether helping shape a multistage career path for a young female scientist, instilling confidence and hope in an undergraduate student who has lost their way, or engaging and inspiring the next generation of scientists through her brilliant teaching and outreach activities. She has touched the lives and careers of generations of young female scientists - many of whom would not have continued in science without her mentoring."

"The Judging Panel were very impressed with the calibre of nominations across the board," says Emma Timewell, Executive member of AWIS. "However, it was felt that Judy's nomination showed commitment to sustained mentoring activities beyond those of her official role as an academic director. Her nomination garnered significant support from mentees past and present, which demonstrated her contribution to the careers of many other women in science over her 30 year career. We are very pleased to be able to recognise her with this award."

Judy will officially receive her Award from Dame Miriam Dell, Patron of AWIS, at the 2014 AWIS conference. Nominations were received from across the science system, including school science teachers, lecturers and supervisors at tertiary institutions and managers at commercial organisations.