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Posts from the ‘Physical Sciences’ Category

“Towards a Silent Aircraft”, Professor Dame Ann Dowling DBE, FRS, FREng

Prof Ann DowlingProfessor Dame Ann Dowling DBE, FRS, FREng 
“Towards a Silent Aircraft”.
Thursday 10th November 2011

Lucy Cavendish College and Cambridge AWiSE are pleased to invite Professor Ann Dowling to speak about her research on low-emission combustion and noise reduction in aircraft and cars.  Amongst her many achievements, she was the UK lead for the Silent Aircraft Initiative (, a partnership between Cambridge University and MIT to develop a conceptual design for a next-generation ultra-low noise, fuel efficient, aircraft.

Professor Dowling is the current head of Cambridge University Engineering Department, one of the largest integrated engineering departments in Europe and the largest single department in the University.   In 1998, she was the first woman to be elected to a professorship within the engineering department.

Professor Dowling is a Fellow of the Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering (Vice-President 1999-2002), she was appointed CBE for services to Mechanical Engineering in 2002 and DBE for services to Science in 2007.

This year, she was recognised as a Woman of Outstanding Achievement by the UK Resource Centre for Women in SET.   Professor Dowling is a Patron of the Women’s Engineering Society (WES) and a strong supporter of outreach schemes to promote science and engineering and encourage the next generation of engineers and scientists.

Event details:
Professor Dame Ann Dowling  “Towards a Silent Aircraft”.
Thursday 10th November 2011
Strathaird Building, Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge
6pm-7pm (please arrive promptly)
The event is free but please register in advance at
Our events are open to everyone, both women and men.

This event is followed by Formal Hall (Science, Engineering, Maths, Computer Science and Geography) at Lucy Cavendish College. Cost:  £21, Time: 7pm for 7.30pm. Please contact Jenny Koenig (jk111 at if you would like to attend.  Book early as places are limited.

Carol Robinson in Nature

Carol Robinson, a professor in Chemistry at the University of Cambridge who recently moved to University of Oxford wrote an article about the dearth of women at the top of Chemistry.

A summary:

Carol Robinson describes herself as “the first female chemistry professor at both the University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford, which have a combined history in chemistry of about 800 years”, which in itself is quite telling of the nature of the chemical sciences and it explains why she frequently gets asked why so many women leave chemistry at an early stage of their career. In chemistry, the attrition rate from PhD students (46% women) to professorships (6% women) is even bigger than in other traditionally male fields such as engineering and physics.

Carol did not have a traditional academic career. She left school to work in an industrial lab at 16 and eventually working her way through night-school to a point where she could start a PhD. After her PhD she took 8 years off to have her three children during a career break and then came back to a career in science. “Admittedly, after my eight-year absence, it was hard to find a position in science. I had three interviews before convincing a panel that I was committed (one interviewer remembered me positively from my student days).”

She talks about the pros and cons of being interested in dressing well and shoes as a woman in chemistry- and argues that women should not loose their femininity:  “By behaving or dressing as honorary men, we only reinforce the macho culture of chemistry”.

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