HRH Princess Anne debuts Covid Unsung Heroes awards for women in STEM

Six women in STEM have been awarded the first ever Covid Unsung Hero crowns by the Women in Science and Engineering campaign

The Princess Royal has announced six winners of the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) Covid Unsung Hero awards in recognition of the women who helped to improve lives and communities during the pandemic. 

Organised by leading community interest company WISE, of whom HRH Princess Anne is a long-standing patron, the awards were held at Windsor Castle in celebration of STEM roles, backgrounds and industries. 

It has been an honour and a privilege to witness the work of these amazing women over the last two years. Each nominee has a made a superb contribution during the pandemic and we truly wish that we could have celebrated them all as winners. Since being appointed CEO of WISE in the height of the pandemic, I have been so impressed by the tenacity, excellence and vision demonstrated by so many women in STEM, and none more so, than those recognised last night – Kay Hussain, chief executive of WISE 

Nominees were judged by leading industry experts including Professor Dame Sue Hill, chief scientific officer for England and senior responsible officer for NHS genomics, and Ricky Martin, member of the Royal Society for Chemistry and winner of the BBC’s The Apprentice.

The six award categories included: tech innovation, education, data solution, diversity and inclusion, community engagement, and pandemic response. 

And the winners are… 

Winners of the awards included: 

  • Dr Amy Thomas: Research associate at the University of Bristol and winner of the Tech Award (sponsored by Pfizer), for designing and validating a saliva spit test after identifying early into the pandemic that the widely used swab test was unsuitable for children. 
  • Dr Anna Young: Lecturer in mechanical engineering at the University of Bath and winner of the New Educator award (sponsored by PA Consulting), for the role she played in ensuring that over 1,200 mechanical engineering undergraduates were able to receive high-quality education and pastoral support during Bath University’s transition to blended learning.
  • Fiona Bennington: Product design engineer and head of entrepreneurship and growth at Catalyst in Belfast and winner of the Responsive Hero award (sponsored by AWE), for establishing a cross-border consortium of companies in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland to distribute PPE to frontline workers during the first wave of the pandemic. 
  • Ming Tang: Interim chief data and analytics officer at NHS England and NHS Improvement and winner of the Data Solution award (sponsored by IQVIA), for the creation of the Covid Data Store, which used AI to ensure that critical care staff, PPE and medications were being placed in the right locations at the right time. 
  • Susan McDonald: Energy Lead at Deloitte and winner of the Community Champion award (sponsored by the NHS), for her work ensuring that at-home Covid testing was available to everyone, including spearheading accessibility for ethnic minority groups, blind and partially sighted people, and those shielding or self-isolating. 
  • Tolulope Oke: Global diversity, equity and inclusion customer engagement leader at Amazon Web Services, and winner of the Inclusion and Diversity award (sponsored by Hyper Recruitment Solutions), for her work relaunching Amazon’s Europe, Middle East and Asia Inclusion Ambassador Programme, creating a network of over 1,400 diversity and inclusion ambassadors within 28 countries to provide additional support during the pandemic.  

Dame Sue Hill DBE, chief scientific officer for England and lead ambassador at WISE, commented: “These women have made an astounding impact during the pandemic, going above and beyond to help keep our population and communities safe during a truly challenging time. 

“As an ambassador for WISE, I am continuously amazed at the achievements of the women we represent, and hope that these awards will go some small way in demonstrating our gratitude for their efforts.” 

Sponsors for the awards included the NHS, PA Consulting, Pfizer, Hyper Recruitment Solutions, IQVIA and AWE.

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