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Science Award success for WMS Women of the Future

Congratulations to Dr Cerys Currie, winner of the Science Category in the Women of the Future Awards. She received her award at a ceremony in London on Wednesday 9 November. Two members of Warwick Medical School were shortlisted this year. Alongside Cerys, Postdoctoral Research Fellow and final year medical student Ramat Ayoola, was nominated in the Community Spirit category. Click here to find out more about Ramat's nomination.

The Women of the Future Awards, founded in 2006, were established to provide a platform to strengthen the pipeline of female talent in the UK.

Cerys was nominated for her work to improve research culture and her contribution to reproductive science. Cerys works with human eggs and embryos in collaboration with the IVF clinic at University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW) on two projects: considering the effect of maternal age on fertility and what causes human eggs to become aneuploid over time, and the examination of early human embryos and chromosome segregation to consider how the embryo contributes to pregnancy loss and infertility. She has recently had her first author paper ‘The first miotic division of human embryos is highly error prone’ published in Nature Communications.

While working towards her PhD, she reflected on how difficult it was at times to work in a heavily competitive and male environment. She, like many other women, suffered from imposter syndrome. However, as she continued her work, she realised how much she loved it and was in fact a successful scientist so set about trying to improve the environment around her. Having been inspired by women scientists at an international conference she started to put on events to raise the profile of women in science.

She said, ‘There just aren’t enough women in science and you can’t be what you can’t see. When I came back to Warwick, I joined up with colleagues to talk about working in science and the issues of juggling other responsibilities in such a competitive environment, where going above and beyond is the norm. I was also asked to be part of the University Research Culture Forum and sat on the University panel for enhancing research culture bids panel last year and have just contributed again this year. I have also put in my own application for funding this year to put on more WMS events, so fingers crossed!”

She has identified that it is common for women to be working in science at PhD or post doc level but far less common place at Principal Investigator and Professor level. She said “There are difficulties in women having the time and space to be able to apply for bids as well as having family commitments which sees a drop off in women progressing through the field. There are some women professors of course, but many of which have had to sacrifice a great deal in order to achieve their status.”

Cerys will continue to work with others to try and level that playing field. She said, “It is slowly changing which is good news. When scientists applying for grants, there is increasing need to pay attention to research culture and ensure that it is covered within our applications. Hopefully this will start to make all areas of the profession consider the importance of a positive and supportive research culture and lead to changes that benefit everyone.”

Cerys has already made a lot of progress and hopes that by winning this award it will underline the achievements she has already made, galvanise her to move forward and give her additional confidence to continue to stand up, push harder and fight for equality within science.