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


Additional links:

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


Additional link:

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.


Additional links:

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.”
An old black and white photo showing the head and shoulders of an older woman with short light hair and glasses, wearing a dark suit jacket.


Additional links:

Feb 282024

53 Northumberland Street, Edinburgh, EH3 6JQ

A two-storey sandstone rowhouse with 5 windows, a white front door, and a small plaque to the left of the front door.

Mary Somerville (1780 – 1872) was a Scottish mathematician and astronomer, and one of the first two women to become an Honorary Member of the Royal Astronomical Society, alongside Caroline Herschel. She was one of the first to suggest the existence of Neptune, and she famously tutored Ada Lovelace, who became the “mother of modern computing”. Somerville wrote many successful journal articles and books in her lifetime, one of which, On the Connexion of the Physical Sciences, was its publisher’s most successful science book until Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. Somerville was the first person to ever be referred to as “scientist”, and her extensive contributions to academia are commemorated by this plaque, at the house where she lived in Edinburgh.

A black plaque with decorative gold knotted borders reading: Mary Fairfax Somerville, 1780-1872, “The queen of 19th century science, astronomer, scientist and polymath, lived here.”
Portrait painting of a dark-haired woman with her hair up in a 1700s style, wearing a dark blue gown with a white ruff and a brown fur stole.
A row of antique book spines with the author Somerville and the following titles: Mechanism of the Heavens, On Molecular and Microscopic Science, Physical Geography, On the Connexions of the Physical Sciences, and Personal Recollections.

Book titles written by Somerville. Books image via Canva, remixed with titles.


Additional links:

Feb 282024

63 Dean Path, Dean Cemetary, Edinburgh, EH4 3AT

A path with a row of old tombstones and autumn leaves on the grass.

Flora Philip (1865 – 1943) was a mathematician and one of the first women to graduate from the University of Edinburgh. When she began her studies, the law prohibited women from studying at Scottish universities, so she enrolled with the Edinburgh Association for the University Education of Women instead. This was an organisation campaigning for higher education for women, offering its own classes delivered by lecturers from Edinburgh University. Upon the passing of the Universities (Scotland) Act in 1889, which allowed women to attend university, Philip was matriculated at the University of Edinburgh and received her degree for her previous studies. She was the first female member of the Edinburgh Mathematical Society and was admitted to the prestigious organisation before she even received her degree. Philip is buried at this cemetery, alongside her husband George Stewart and their children.

A black and white photo (circa 1945) of an elderly woman wearing a dark graduation cap and gown
A large grey tombstone with a square knot carving at the top. The stone is for George Stewart (1865-1938) and his beloved wife Flora Philip, M.A. (14th August 1945) and additional members of their family.

Satellite view screenshot of Google Maps Dean Cemetery showing the location of the lower cemetery and the headstone.


Feb 282024

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, John Hope Gateway Visitor Centre, Arboretum Place, EH3 5NZ

Botanic garden glass greenhouses with a domed glass building in the background and red azaleas (flowers) in the foreground.

Isobel Wylie Hutchison (1889 – 1982) was a Scottish Arctic traveller, botanist and polyglot. She was a prolific writer and published many books and articles about her travels. Hutchison also recorded film footage of her travels, some of the oldest documentary footage existing today. Her papers were gifted to the National Library of Scotland, and many of the plants she collected on her travels can be found here, at the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh. Hutchison was the first woman to receive the Mungo Park Medal from the Royal Scottish Geographical Society, and in 1949, the University of St Andrews awarded her an honorary degree, recognising her contributions to research and her “indomitable spirit”.

Two portraits of a dark-haired woman, the first dressed in traditional Arctic clothing (late 1920s). The second portrait features the same woman dressed in a dark jumper and wool skirt, sitting on the stone edge of a fountain or pond and petting a Dalmatian dog.
A table with several pressed plant specimens and a watercolour book open to a painting of a tundra-like landscape.
A small stone castle with a walled garden, blooming flowers, and blue skies.

Note: If you wish to view the specimens Hutchison donated to the Botanic Garden, a visit to the Herbarium must be scheduled in advance.


Additional links:

Jun 222021

North Edinburgh Arts, EH4 4TZ

Portrait of Natalie Duffield with a background referencing binary code, wifi, and circut boards on the wall of North Edinburgh Arts
Natalie Duffield by Shona Hardie; image by Ian Georgeson Photography

When she was just 13, Natalie Duffield decided that she didn’t want to go to university but instead wanted to work. She began her career in IT in temporary, junior roles but convinced her bosses to give her a start in sales, a traditionally male-dominated field. It took time, but Natalie developed a successful career in IT sales and then went on to become the CEO of InTechnology SmartCitie, which provides free WiFi in central Edinburgh. Now Natalie is championing digital innovation whilst inspiring young women to follow non-traditional careers. Natalie wants to see more courses that are attractive to women, a work culture that assumes women can learn technology, and for all women to know that they can train for any role.

Jun 222021

Lothian Street, EH1 1HB

Black and white portrait of Dr. Anne-Marie Imafidon against a colorful background mounted along a brick wall
Dr. Anne-Marie Imafidon by Shona Hardie; image by Chris Scott Photography

(No longer on display) Dr. Anna-Marie Imafidon is the very definition of a prodigy. At just 11 years old, she became the youngest ever girl to complete an A-level in computing and she graduated from Oxford with a Master’s Degree in Mathematics and Computer Science when she was 20. In 2017, Anne-Marie was awarded an MBE for services to young women and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) sectors. She is the co-founder of Stemettes, an award-winning organisation dedicated to inspiring and supporting young women and non-binary people into STEM careers. Their vision is for women to be proportionately represented in the field and to help all girls make informed decisions about their opportunities. Over the last eight years, Stemettes has delivered free events and workshops to over 45,000 young people across the UK and Ireland.

Jun 222021

Summerhall, EH9 1PL

Black and white portrait of Zarina Ahmed against a bright, tropical background
Zarina Ahmad by Shona Hardie; image by Chris Scott Photography

(No longer on display) After being told that “minorities are not interested in climate change,” Zarina Ahmad became dedicated to increasing participation and improving funding access for under-represented groups. Zarina proved that the issue wasn’t a lack of interest from minorities groups but rather a lack of awareness of the funding available for enthusiastic activists. As a result, she worked with the Scottish government to ensure targets for working with the minority sector on administering the Climate Change Fund (CCF), a fund to support community-led organisations to tackle climate change by reducing carbon emissions. By advocating for climate justice and race equality, and giving a voice to minorities, her work has led to over 140 successful applications to the CCF. By highlighting the need for women as well as people of all backgrounds and faiths to be involved in environmental world, Zarina is helping to bring forward climate justice for all people across Scotland.