Niki Vermeulen

Mar 022024
 

The Nucleus Building, Thomas Bayes Road, Edinburgh, EH9 3FG

A multi-storey modern building with columns of glass windows over a white first level with columns and a covered walkway.

We hope you enjoyed the Edinburgh Women in STEM trail. 

There are many other women who made significant contributions to science connected with Edinburgh, for example, Edinburgh-born chemist and mathematician Annie Hutton Numbers (1897 – 1988), or mathematician Marion Gray (1902 – 1979).

‘Edinburgh Alumnae: a celebration’ is a collection of eight photographic portraits of women who studied at the University of Edinburgh. The introductory plaque reads: ‘As we celebrate the opening of the first building of the campus’ second century, we present here a gallery of notable women who studied and worked at the University of Edinburgh.


They represent some of those few women whose talents and determination – and their passion for their subject – led them to success, despite in many cases the circumstances and prejudices of their time’.

Gallery with sign reading Edinburgh Alumnae: a celebration. Eight black and white portraits of women with information cards under them are on a beige wall.

List of portraits:

  • Molly Fergusson
  • Charlotte Auerbach
  • Christina Miller
  • Chrystal Macmillan
  • Honor Fell
  • Marion Ross
  • Sophia Jex-Blake
  • Mary Brück

Source:

  • “The Nucleus Building.” The University of Edinburgh, www.ed.ac.uk/science-engineering/about/nucleus. Accessed 18 Sept. 2023.

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Mar 022024
 

Noreen and Kenneth Murray Library, Thomas Bayes Road, Edinburgh, EH9 3FG

A multi-storey modern building with wooden panelling, numerous glass windows, and a sign over the door reading “The Noreen and Kenneth Murray Library”.

Noreen Murray, or Lady Murray (1935 – 2011) was a molecular geneticist who pioneered genetic engineering. She held a personal chair in molecular genetics at the University of Edinburgh and was president of the Genetical Society and vice president of the Royal Society. Murray published many notable papers during her lifetime, most of which were single-author publications. She worked with her husband, Sir Kenneth Murray, to develop a vaccine against hepatitis B, which became the first genetically engineered vaccine approved for human use. Murray was noted for being attentive to the careers of women around her and became a mentor to them, encouraging other women in STEM to excel. She was awarded a CBE, among various other accolades, and the Noreen and Kenneth Murray Library in King’s Buildings was named in her honour. There is a memorial tree across from the library entrance in the grassy area. Also on the King’s Buildings campus, the Darwin Trust of Edinburgh, a charity founded by Noreen and her husband, Kenneth.

A sepia head-and-shoulders photo (circa 1950s or 1960s) of a smiling woman with light curls under a dark hat, wearing a dark coat with a white polka dot collar.
An image taken through a microscope with a blue background and three red and orange viruses.  To the left there is an injection vial reading ‘hepatitis B vaccine’.

Sources:

  • “Noreen Murray.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 8 Sept 2023 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noreen_Murray
  • “Noreen Murray.” Celebrating Diversity: Inspiring Women in History, The University of Edinburgh, https://www.ed.ac.uk/equality-diversity/celebrating-diversity/inspiring-women/women-in-history/noreen-murray Accessed 18 Sept. 2023
  • “Obituary: Professor Noreen Murray CBE FRS FRSE, Geneticist.” The Scotsman, 25 May 2011, www.scotsman.com/news/obituaries/obituary-professor-noreen-murray-cbe-frs-frse-geneticist-1675916.

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Mar 022024
 

Christina Miller Building, 75 James Dewar Road, Edinburgh, EH9 3BG

A modern building constructed of brick at the bottom and grey and turquoise panelling higher up.  There is a stone path leading to glass door.  At the start of the path is a short blue sign reading “Christina Miller Building”.

Christina Miller (1899 – 2001) was a Scottish chemist and the first female chemist to be elected to the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Miller suffered from various childhood illnesses which caused severe damage to her hearing, and as a result many career pathways were closed to her. However, she decided to study chemistry at the University of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt University. She graduated with a special distinction, the class medal and the Vans Dunlop Scholarship. Miller went on to pursue a PhD, and her work was published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society. Post-PhD, Miller obtained the first ever sample of pure phosphorus trioxide and became so successful in her field that she obtained a Doctor of Science (DSc) before the age of 30.  She was one of the first women to become a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1949. Her vast contributions to chemistry are honoured by the Christina Miller Building in the King’s Buildings at the University of Edinburgh.

Old black and white photo of a woman with short dark hair and dark eyes wearing a graduation gown and holding a diploma.

Christina Miller, graduation photo, 1920s
Old black and white photo of a dark-haired woman in a white lab coat working a chemistry lab full of glass equipment visible in the light from a large window.

Christina Miller in the chemistry lab, 1930s

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Feb 292024
 

Marion Ross Road, King’s Buildings, Edinburgh, EH9 3DL

Marion Ross (1903 – 1994) was a Scottish physicist and a graduate of the University of Edinburgh. She published pioneering work in x-ray crystallography and made significant contributions to fluid dynamics. During the Second World War, Ross led a Rosyth-based team in the Admiralty who were working on underwater acoustics. After the war she returned to Edinburgh as a lecturer and became one of the first women admitted as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Ross was awarded a Readership Emeritus by the University of Edinburgh in recognition of her extensive contributions to physics, and both a physics prize and a road in Edinburgh’s King’s Buildings are named after her.

A black and white photo (circa 1940s-1950s) of a dark-haired, strong-featured woman,  wearing a suit and skirt and sitting in a chair as part of a group photo.

Marion Ross, cropped from group photo
School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Edinburgh
Scientific diagram (black and white) of a 3d cuboid with circles and interconnecting lines drawn on it.  It is labelled with ‘mirror plane’ and ‘spinel block’.

Crystal Structure of Beta Alumina, diagram from one of Ross’s publications, 1937
Beavers & Ross, 1937, via Semantic Scholar.org

Sources:

  • “Marion Ross (physicist).” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 24 Jan. 2023, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marion_Ross_(physicist)
  • “Marion Ross.” Celebrating Diversity: Inspiring Women in History, The University of Edinburgh, https://www.ed.ac.uk/equality-diversity/celebrating-diversity/inspiring-women/women-in-history/marion-ross . Accessed 14 Sept. 2023.
  • Beevers, C.A., & Ross, Μ.A. (1937). The Crystal Structure of “Beta Alumina” Na2O·11Al2O3. Zeitschrift für Kristallographie – Crystalline Materials, 97, 59 – 66.

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Feb 292024
 

Mary Brück Building, Colin Maclaurin Road, Edinburgh, EH9 3DW

A grey, modern building with glass doors, a blue sign reading “Mary Brück Building” and a grey sign for “Brücks Street Kitchen”.

Mary Brück Building, King’s Buildings, University of Edinburgh

Mary Brück (1925 – 2008) was an Irish astronomer and astrophysicist who studied an undergraduate degree in physics at the University College Dublin. She went on to study a postgraduate degree at the University of Edinburgh and was awarded a PhD in 1950. Brück was appointed Astronomer Royal for Scotland and became a senior lecturer at Edinburgh University, publishing her research widely across various journals and research fields. Upon her retirement, Brück began to research the history of science, specifically the work of women in astronomy, helping to share previously unknown histories of women in science. The Mary Brück building in King’s Buildings is named in honour of her contributions to astronomy and her endeavours to enhance our understanding of the history of science. 

A woman, dressed in  a wool suit jacket with dark wavy hair, looking through a telescope.

Mary Brück with telescope. 1954
University of Edinburgh/Royal Observatory Edinburgh
Two images: One of a large number of bright stars in outer space.  The second image shows a three-story stone tower with a decorative green and grey dome at the top.

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Feb 292024
 

Edinburgh’s School of Engineering, Mayfield Road, Edinburgh, EH9 3JL

A brown stone building with light brown wooden doors and ‘Engineering’ carved in the stone above them.

Mary (Molly) Fergusson (1914 – 1997) was a British civil engineer, the first woman awarded a fellowship of the Institution of Civil Engineers. She graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 1936 and went on to work at Blyth and Blyth of Edinburgh. She was personally responsible for a number of engineering projects, including bridges, paper mills and water purification works. She became a partner in Blyth and Blyth in 1948, the first woman to achieve this position in a civil engineering consultancy. She encouraged women into engineering profession, establishing a bursary and working with the Women’s Engineering Society, as well as other organisations. She is remembered by this plaque at the University of Edinburgh School of Engineering building.

A dark red circular plaque with white lettering that reads “The University of Edinburgh in honour of Mary (Molly) Fergusson 1914-1997, graduate of the university, first woman fellow of the institution of civil engineers.”
A dark red circular plaque with white lettering that reads “The University of Edinburgh in honour of Mary (Molly) Fergusson 1914-1997, graduate of the university, first woman fellow of the institution of civil engineers.”

Sources:

  • “Mary Fergusson.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 21 Sept. 2023, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Fergusson .
  • “Notable Alumni: Molly Fergusson (1914-1997).” The University of Edinburgh, https://www.ed.ac.uk/alumni/services/notable-alumni/alumni-in-history/molly-fergusson Accessed 16 Nov 2023
  • “Mary Isolen (Molly) Fergusson” Scottish Engineering Hall of Fame, 16th November 2023, https://engineeringhalloffame.org/profile/mary-isolen-molly-fergusson
  • Baker, Nina C. “Mary (Molly) Fergusson.” Magnificent Women, 28 Apr. 2019, www.magnificentwomen.co.uk/engineer-of-the-week/36-mary-molly-fergusson.

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Feb 292024
 

Surgeons’ Hall Museums, Nicolson Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9DW

A tall light stone building with six columns, a decorated pediment, and a blue Welcome banner out front. There is a small plaque at the gate on the left, behind two lamp posts.

Sophia Jex-Blake (1840 – 1912) was a pioneer of university education for women and was the first female practicing doctor in Scotland. She was part of the Edinburgh Seven, a famous group of women who studied at Edinburgh University and were the first women to be accepted to university in Britain. However, male students became very hostile towards the Seven, resulting in the Surgeon’s Hall riot, where a large gathering of 200 people insulted and threw rubbish at the women on their way to an exam. This did not deter Jex-Blake, who went on to found two medical schools for women in both London and Edinburgh, and this plaque commemorates the spot where seven women faced blatant hostility, purely because of their gender. Other members of the Edinburgh Seven: Isabel Thorne, Edith Pechey, Matilda Chaplin, Helen Evans, Mary Anderson and Emily Bovell.

A tall light stone building with six columns, a decorated pediment, and a blue Welcome banner out front. There is a small plaque at the gate on the left, behind two lamp posts.
A painting of a dark-haired, dark-eyed woman with her hair back in the style of the late 1800s, wearing a dark gown with a white collar against a warm brown background.

In 2020, the University of Edinburgh unveiled a painting commemorating the Edinburgh Seven, which is currently on display in the Sophia Jex-Blake room of the Chancellor’s Building at the Royal Infirmary. The portrait, by Laurence Winram, is a re-imagining of Rembrandt’s The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp. (Learn more on Laurence’s blog post about the piece).

A group of seven young women in black graduation gowns around a table with a cadaver on it and a female instructor giving an anatomy lesson the arm.
Copyright Laurence Winram via author’s blog, (permission granted to use with link and credit)

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Feb 292024
 

Old College, University of Edinburgh, South Bridge, Edinburgh, EH8 9YL

A courtyard with grey and tan stone buildings, stairs and green grass.

Eleanor Anne Ormerod (1828 – 1901) as a British entomologist, and one of the first to establish economic and agricultural entomology. She acquired extensive knowledge on controlling insect pests, and her publications on this matter became very popular, establishing her as an authority on entomology. Ormerod was a consultant to the Royal Agricultural Society of England and was awarded the Flora medal by the Royal Horticultural Society for her contributions to their collection of insect pests. She became the first woman to be given an honorary LLD degree by the University of Edinburgh, and in 2017 the university also named their research cloud computing service, ‘Eleanor’, after her. Ormerod’s portrait can be found at the foot of the south-east stair in Old College.

Note: This portrait is currently on display in a staff-only area of Old College, so in-person viewing may not be possible.

Portrait painting of a dark-haired, dark-eyed woman wearing a graduation cap and gown, posing with her left hand up to her cheek.
Portrait of Eleanor Anne Ormerod
Courtesy of University of Edinburgh Special Collections
A collage showing a dark green book cover with a golden apple embossed on the front, a title page reading Insects Injurious to Orchard
via Wikimedia Commons

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Feb 292024
 

Level 5, National Museum of Scotland, Chambers Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1JF

Wide, three-doored entrance to an old stone building with steps and a statue of a man in historical costume out front.

Professor Victoria Martin is a physicist and Professor of Collider Physics at the University of Edinburgh. She is a member of the Institute for Particle and Nuclear Physics, and her research concerns understanding the Higgs boson. Professor Martin also works on the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research). Her work is featured in a video at the National Museum of Scotland, level 5 in the Enquire gallery.

A light-haired woman wearing a dark suit and blue hard hat with a CERN logo in front of a background of colourful cables, wires and equipment.

Victoria Martin at the CMS experiment at CERN
A museum exhibit featuring a large copper spherical machine in front of a circle of wires and cables. There is a television on a blue wall to the right of it, and Victoria Martin, particle physicist, is on the television.

Sources:

  • “Victoria Martin.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 17 Aug. 2022, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victoria_Martin .
  • “Victoria Martin.” School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Edinburgh, 3 Aug. 2022, www.ph.ed.ac.uk/people/victoria-martin.

Additional link:

Feb 282024
 
Level 6, National Museum of Scotland, Chambers Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1JF
National Museum of Scotland, light sandstone with a curved tower and modern architectural features.

Professor Dame Anna Dominiczak (born 1954) is a medical researcher, Scotland’s Chief Scientist of Health, and the first woman to be appointed Regius Professor of Medicine – the oldest existing chair at the University of Glasgow. She has held positions as Vice Principal and Head of Medical Veterinary & Life Sciences at Glasgow University and was awarded a DBE in 2016 to recognise her contributions to medical science. Dame Dominiczak has published extensive research across various fields, including hypertension, cardiovascular genomics and precision medicine. She was the Editor-In-Chief of the prestigious American Heart Association journal, Hypertension from 2012-2022, and in July 2023 launched the new journal Precision Medicine as Editor-in-Chief with Cambridge Prisms. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and her pioneering work in medical science is recognised in this exhibit at the National Museum of Scotland.

Portrait of a light-haired woman in a corridor wearing a dark suit and pink shirt with her arms crossed.

Portrait of Anna Dominiczak
A display of medical equipment and books, including a blood pressure monitor, a book on the genetics of hypertension, and a Scotswoman of the year award.

Sources:

  • Anna Dominiczak.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 8 June 2023, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anna_Dominiczak . Accessed 12 Sept 2023.
  • “Professor Dame Anna Dominiczak.” University of Glasgow, www.gla.ac.uk/schools/cardiovascularmetabolic/staff/annadominiczak/. Accessed 12 Sept. 2023.

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