3.10pm Friday 2nd February 2024

Carole Mundell is the recently appointed ESA Director of Science. She joined ESA from the University of Bath where she held the Hiroko Sherwin Chair in Extragalactic Astronomy, was founding Head of Astrophysics, and served as Head of the Department of Physics until becoming the first woman Chief Scientific Adviser at the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 2018 and first Chief International Science Envoy in the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office until 2021. She was elected President of the UK Science Council in 2021. Prof. Mundell began her career at the University of Glasgow where she obtained a BSc Double 1st class Hons. in natural philosophy (physics) and astronomy, followed by a PhD in astrophysics from the University of Manchester. She has published over 170 peer-reviewed papers. Her research interests encompass ground- and space-based research and technology development across the electromagnetic spectrum and new technologies and policies for space sustainability.

Cathie Clarke is Professor of Theoretical Astrophysics at the University of Cambridge and a Co-Director of the Institute of Astronomy Cambridge. Born and educated  in Penzance, Cornwall, she studied Natural Sciences at Cambridge and obtained her DPhil in Astrophysics from the University of Oxford. Following a postodoctoral Fellowship at the University of California Santa Cruz, she returned to Cambridge where she has been ever since, with the exception of a year’s lectureship at Queen Mary University of London. Cathie is a theorist who studies how stars and planets form and, in particular, the interaction between these processes and the destructive effects of nearby massive stars. Cathie was awarded the Eddington Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society in 2017 and elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2023.

The Sky is for everyone

In this special panel session, Cathie Clarke and Carole Mundell will be telling the stories of their  journey from students to professors and the hurdles they had to jump to make it as successful women in science, and specifically astronomy.  Their stories are just one of a collection of amazing stories from women across the globe who sometimes battled against adversity to achieve their goals. The Sky is for Everyone tells that story and also sends a powerful message to women and girls hoping to forge a career in science.

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