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Dundee Women in Science Festival returns

2 March 2015

Dundee is once again celebrating the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) with the 2015 Women in Science Festival, which runs until Saturday March 28.

It is the UK’s only festival specifically celebrating the scientific achievements of women, and is aimed at encouraging more young women to choose science as a career.

The programme of events will begin with a Saturday evening lecture delivered by Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, the first female President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

In its 232 year history, the Royal Society of Edinburgh - which is Scotland’s National Academy - has had 45 Presidents, none of whom have been women.

In her talk, Dame Jocelyn will look at the position of women in STEM within Scotland, making some comparisons with other countries and highlighting in particular the many opportunities there are here for women to pursue a career in science and related subjects.

Environmental and Life Scientist Dr Patsy Dello Sterpaio from Abertay, who is part of the organising committee, said:

“Dundee is home to a great number of internationally acclaimed female scientists and researchers, so is the perfect location for a festival celebrating the achievements of women in science.

“At the moment, women are rather under-represented in the fields of science, technology, engineering and maths, and we want to change that, to raise the aspirations of young girls in Dundee and to help inspire them to go on to achieve great things.

“It’s so important that young women have good role models in this area, and all of us involved in the festival feel extremely passionate about this. There are some fantastic jobs out there for the taking, and we want the next generation of Dundonians to know about them, to have the skills and knowledge to be able to apply for them, and to go on to make some of the next breakthroughs in scientific research.”

Dr Rebecca Wade - a Physical Geographer from Abertay’s Urban Water Technology Centre, added:

“Abertay is committed to advancing women's careers in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM).

“The university is working towards a nationally recognised equality charter called the Athena SWAN Charter, which has been developed to encourage and recognise commitment to combating the underrepresentation of women in STEMM, and to advancing the careers of women in STEMM research and academia.

“These commitments, together with the fabulous outreach potential of the exciting events planned for the Dundee Women in Science Festival are helping us work together towards making Dundee an even more attractive place for all STEMM researchers and academics - female and male!”

Abertay is very well represented at the festival. Below are details of the events our female scientists are involved in this year.

Thursday 12 March, 6pm

Film screening in the Hannah Maclure Centre – Europa Report

When unmanned probes suggest that a hidden ocean and single-celled life exists on one of Jupiter’s moons, six astronauts embark on an ill-fated exploratory mission.

Europa Report documents this interstellar mission to Jupiter, accompanied by an introductory talk given by Dr Karen Meyer, a Lecturer in Applied Mathematics at Abertay University, who carries out research into the numerical simulations of the sun’s magnetic field.

Please book free tickets by calling 01382 308324 or emailing

Wednesday 18 March, 7-8pm

Can we train the brain? With Professor Vera Kempe

There have been numerous claims in the press that learning a language or a musical instrument makes kids smarter. Professor Vera Kempe, from Abertay University, will examine the evidence behind these claims and explain that there are no easy answers when it comes to understanding the causal relationship between aptitude, learning and success. So should we invest in language and music lessons for kids? Absolutely, but not because they may gain a few IQ points.

Hosted at Avery & Co, who will take orders for hot food until 6.15pm. Please arrive early to avoid disappointment.

Thursday 19 March, 6pm

Film screening in the Hannah Maclure Centre - Transcendence

A scientist’s drive for artificial intelligence takes on dangerous implications when his consciousness is uploaded into one such program. Transcendence deals with different aspects of artificial intelligence linked with technological utopianism. Dr Naghmeh Moradpoor is a lecturer in Computing at Abertay University and will give an introduction to the film.

Please book free tickets by calling 01382 308324 or emailing

Thursday 26 March, 6pm

Film screening in the Hannah Maclure Centre - Proof

The daughter of a brilliant but mentally disturbed mathematician, recently deceased, tries to come to terms with her possible inheritance: his insanity. Complicating matters are one of her father’s ex-students who wants to search through his papers and her estranged sister who shows up to help settle his affairs.

The drama scrutinizes the relationship between father and daughter, both mathematicians, and offers an insight into their world. The film will follow a talk given by Ruth Falconer, Applied Physicist, Senior Lecturer & researcher in environmental science at Abertay University.

Please book free tickets by calling 01382 308324 or emailing

The festival runs until March 28. It incorporates International Women’s Day and runs alongside Dundee Women’s Festival.

A full programme of events and further information is available on the festival website.

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