On International Women’s Day, 8 March 2019, Prof. Amina Helmi of the Kapteyn Institute, University of Groningen, received the Suffrage Science Award at the Royal Society in London. The awards celebrate women in science and engineering and encourage others to enter science and reach senior leadership roles. The awards themselves are items of jewellery and are passed on as heirlooms from one female scientist to the next. The previous award holder who choose Helmi for awardee is Prof. Marileen Dogterom of the Delft University of Technology, who won a Spinoza prize last year.
At the ceremony on 8 March, 12 female scientists and engineers from across the world will receive a Suffrage Science award. The Suffrage Science scheme was initiated in 2011 for female scientists in Life Sciences, followed by awards in Engineering and Physical Sciences, and in Maths and Computing.
The awards are pieces of jewellery , whose design is inspired by science. After two years, each previous holder chooses whom they want to pass their heirloom onto. Professor Marileen Dogterom, Delft University of Technology on her nomination of Professor Amina Helmi, University of Groningen: “Amina's ground-breaking discoveries on galaxy evolution and dynamics , especially on the Milky Way, manage to inspire many outside her own research area, including myself. She provides an excellent role model to young female scientists.”
Community of excellent female scientists
Handing on the awards has created a self-perpetuating network of talent and contacts to help others succeed in science and engineering. This year’s awardees join a community of over 120 women scientists. Since 2011 the awards have travelled from the UK, across Europe to the USA, Hong Kong and to Uganda, illustrating the international nature of science and engineering, and the global effort to improve female representation.
About prof. dr. A. Helmi
Amina Helmi (1970) is Professor of Dynamics, Structure and Formation of the Milky Way. Helmi wrote a groundbreaking PhD thesis (for which she was awarded the 2004 Christiaan Huygens Prize), shedding new light on the history and formation of the Milky Way by stating that it probably gradually merged with smaller galaxies. Helmi is searching for these separate galaxies (‘fossils’) and is thus a sort of astro-archaeologist, using the information from star fossils to reconstruct the formation of the Milky Way.
Helmi has been awarded a number of prestigious grants, including an NWO VIDI grant in 2003 and an ERC Starting Grant from the EU in 2009. She is an active member of numerous networks. In 2017 she has been elected as member of the KNAW, the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. Helmi is closely involved with the GAIA telescope, launched in 2013, which is providing very precise measurements to chart the Milky Way. II 2014 a team of scientists, including Helmi, published the first map of the spatial distribution of the mysterious matter in the almost empty space between stars, in Science. In 2015 she was awarded a VICI grant for her research, and in 2017 an NWO grant. In 2018 she and her research group were one of the first to be given the opportunity to study a second set of data from Gaia missions.
Source article and copyright photo's: rug.nl