Advancing Women in Science: Professor Hilary Lappin-Scott

08 March 2018

This International Women’s Day, we celebrate the work of our members who work to ensure microbiology is inclusive for all.

In the 2018 New Year’s Honours list, past President Professor Hilary Lappin-Scott was awarded an OBE for her services to microbiology, and the advancement of women in science and engineering.

Professor Lappin-Scott, an eminent scientist working on understanding biofilm communities, has dedicated much of her career to ensure access to science and engineering. This has been clear with her work on women in science, at an institution-level at Swansea University where she is Senior Pro-Vice Chancellor, and on a wider scale through her involvement in national and international organisations.

Professor Lappin-Scott was the second of two female Presidents in nearly 75 years of the Society’s history, where she served at the same time as being President of the International Society of Microbial Ecology. As President, she delivered unprecedented levels of change needed for the sustainability of the Society, setting the scene for her successors. She has continued to hold influential roles in several microbiology societies, fostering collaborations between global organisations. She is currently Vice-President of the Federation of European Microbiology Societies and was recently appointed as the Chair of the Research Excellence Framework’s (REF) sub-panel, covering Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences.

A WISE Hero Award winner, Hilary established the Microbiology Society’s Equality and Diversity work. She chaired an Equality and Diversity Working Group in early 2013 to review representation in Society activities, starting with women. The Working Group produced the Society’s Equality and Diversity Policy Statement, which has led to active scrutiny of our work to ensure women are proportionately represented, and has resulted in activities formed to redress the balance – for example, our Council and Committees Shadowing Scheme. Hilary now acts as the External Challenge for the group, continuing to hold the Society to account.

Hilary’s work with the Society is not limited to advancing women; she also established the Microbiology Society Prize Medal (first awarded in 2009) and other initiatives to encourage young microbiologists in their careers.

“I am proud to have been President of the Microbiology Society and have enjoyed participating in Society events since my PhD days, then more recently with my own research group! The global issues around microbiology are extremely challenging and the best way of maximising our chances of success is that we utilise ALL the talents of the microbiology community, regardless of career stage, gender and/or ethnicity.”

Throughout her career, Professor Lappin-Scott has ensured she has a say in how science is conducted, and has made significant efforts to ensure other women also feel empowered to do so. She was awarded an OBE at the beginning of the year to recognise this, and her distinguished services to the microbiology community.

This International Women’s Day, we pay tribute to all of the women who have dedicated time and effort to our mission of advancing the understanding and impact of microbiology by connecting and empowering communities worldwide. To find out more about the work of the Society and how you can get involved in its direction, please see our Nominations and Calls for Expressions page.


Image: Swansea University.