Imperial College London

Staff celebrated for supporting women in academia at Imperial


Six women standing in a line holding certificates

Julia Higgins Medal and Award winners 2023

Imperial staff have been recognised for their contributions to supporting women in academia.

The winners of this year’s Julia Higgins Medal and Awards were announced at a special event on Monday 10 July, hosted by Professor Stephen Curry, Associate Provost (EDI). The accolades are awarded annually and named in honour of Dame Julia Higgins DBE FRS FREng, Emeritus Professor and Senior Research Investigator in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Imperial College London.

This year five awards and one medal have been awarded. The full list of recipients can be read online.

Imperial’s Provost Professor Ian Walmsley said: “The Julia Higgins Awards are an opportunity to recognise those who drive positive change for women in academia and raise the profile of equality, diversity and inclusion across Imperial. This year’s winners have supported other women through mentoring, workshops and training, and by creating spaces for networking and discussing shared experiences.  

“Our award winners are creating positive change not just for colleagues and students who are at Imperial now, but for those who will join us in the future.”

Below we meet two of the winners.

Julia Higgins Medal 

Dr Isabel Rabey, Teaching Fellow in the Department of Physics

Isabel was awarded the Julia Higgins Medal for her work in the Department of Physics to transform the culture of physics for female students and staff. Isabel’s achievements include organising over 20 events for women both in physics and across Imperial, including a six-week machine learning course, a talk on how the menopause affects women in the workplace, and talks on industrial action from a feminist perspective. She restarted the Women & Non-Binary Individuals in Physics Society which now has over 500 members, and has supported many undergraduate and postgraduate students to secure places on PhD programmes, work experience and jobs after graduating.

A woman standing between two men holding a certificate and medal presentation box
Dr Isabel Rabey receiving her medal from Professor Stephen Curry, Associate Provost (EDI) and Professor Richard Craster, Dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences

In her nomination, a colleague noted: “Isabel understands that for change to truly occur it must involve women at all levels and so spearheaded a committee of postdocs, postgraduates, and undergraduate students with an overall aim of increasing a sense of belonging for women in the Department of Physics.”

Isabel also led several student partnership projects and supported undergraduates to incorporate more perspectives from underrepresented groups in the physics curricula and better understand the underrepresentation of women in core lecturing roles in the Department of Physics.

Members of the Physics Department gathered to celebrate International Women’s Day.
Members of the Physics Department gathered to celebrate International Women’s Day

Commenting on her award, Isabel said: “I am so honoured to be awarded with the Julia Higgins medal. I, along with all the other committee members in the Women & Non-Binary Individuals in Physics Society, have worked so hard to create a strong and empowered community over the past few years, and it is wonderful for these efforts to be recognised.” 

Julia Higgins Award

Professor Faith Osier, Co-Director of Imperial’s Institute of Infection and Chair in Immunology and Vaccinology

Faith was awarded a Julia Higgins Award in recognition of her commitment to supporting and championing female scientists. Faith is described in her nomination as a “leading, strong and natural champion for equality, diversity and inclusion who devotes a significant amount of time to mentorship” and has inspired female trainees and under-represented minorities at Imperial and globally. She provides practical support with applications for grants, fellowships and employment opportunities, and works with colleagues to ensure equal representation of female scientists at conferences, on funding panels and events in which she is invited to participate.

Professor Faith Osier
Professor Faith Osier

Faith said: “I am delighted to win this award and would like to dedicate it to all the women and men who hold doors open for women at critical points during their careers and empower them to progress.”


Sara West

Sara West
Communications Division

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