An ‘heirloom’ piece of jewellery has been bestowed to Griffith Research Institute for Drug Discovery (GRIDD) Director Professor Jennifer Martin AC to honour her inspiring achievements in the field.

Professor Martin was among eleven leading female scientists from around the world – and the only one from Australia – to be awarded the hand-crafted scientific heirlooms by their peers at the fifth Suffrage Science Awards for Life Sciences, held at the Academy of Medical Sciences in London.

The awards celebrate women in science and encourage others to enter science and reach senior leadership roles.

The scientific ‘heirloom’ jewellery piece, to be bestowed to Professor Martin. Credit: MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences

The 11 awardees were chosen by the previous award holders for their scientific achievements and ability to inspire others. The awards themselves are items of jewellery, inspired by the Suffrage movement, and are passed on as heirlooms from one female scientist to the next.

Professor Martin was unable to attend the awards in London but said of the honour:

“I am deeply humbled and honoured to be nominated for this award, especially considering I live on the other side of the world. Regrettably, because I live on the other side of the world, I am unable to attend the Suffrage Sciences Award ceremony in person. Nevertheless, I am delighted to be there with you in spirit and to applaud such a wonderful initiative. Thank you.”

The Suffrage Science scheme was initiated by Professor Dame Amanda Fisher, Director of the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences (MRC LMS) in 2011.

These awards occur every 2 years and the awardees are nominated by the previous holders. Professor Martin was nominated by Dr Airlie McCoy from the University of Cambridge, UK.

Dr Airlie said the reasons for her nomination of Professor Martin were:

“The Suffrage Science Award is a perfect fit to Jenny’s contributions: she is an eloquent and effective advocate of women in STEM; was recently awarded Companion of the Order of Australia for her scientific achievements; and is a former D.Phil. student with Louise Johnson.

“Apart from these public and worthy reasons for passing the heirloom to Jenny, I also have a private one. Jenny was the first female scientific speaker I heard in a scientific meeting. I was at the very start of my PhD, and her presentation was intellectually exciting and delivered with her hallmark calm authority. I remember it well, and it has been a template I have aimed to emulate ever since.”

The jewellery was created by art students from Central St Martins who worked with scientists to design pieces inspired by research and the Suffragette movement, from which the award scheme takes its name.

The 2018 award winners are:
Professor Rebecca Voorhees, California Institute of Technology, USA
Professor Anna Wu, UCLA, USA
Professor Jenny Martin, Griffith University, Australia
Professor Liz Bradbury, King’s College London, UK
Professor Claire Rougeulle, Paris Diderot University, France
Professor Mikala Egeblad, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories, USA
Professor Susan M.Gaines, writer/Bremen University, Germany
Professor Irene Miguel-Aliaga , MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences, UK
Professor Cathy Price, University College London, UK
Professor Denise Head, Washington University in Saint Louis, USA
Professor Anat Mirelman, Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Centre, Israel