UCL & LCN Professor Rachel McKendry has won the Royal Society Rosalind Franklin Award and Lecture 2014.
The Committee were unanimous in their decision on the basis of Rachel’s scientific achievements, her suitability as a role model and for her exciting proposal to launch a national competition to create mobile phone apps to inspire women to become leaders in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
The Royal Society Award, named in honour of biophysicist Rosalind Franklin, is given annually to recognise outstanding research excellence and to promote women in STEM subjects.
Rachel’s research lies at the cutting edge of nanotechnology, telecommunication, big data and infectious diseases. Recent breakthroughs span from unravelling the nanomechanical molecular workings of antibiotics against MRSA, to new research towards developing a mobile phone-connected diagnostic test for HIV, and an early warning system for infection outbreaks that links mobile test results to symptoms reported on social media.
Rachel said: "It's fantastic to win this award in honour of Rosalind Franklin. Although she is most well known for her work on DNA, she also made a vital contribution to our understanding of viruses. This award is a fantastic opportunity to highlight the important role women have made, and will continue to make in the battle against infectious diseases. Credit should also go to my fantastic research team, collaborators and my family - I’m looking forward to celebrating this award with them!”
Rachel holds a joint position between the London Centre for Nanotechnology and the Division of Medicine, UCL. She has worked part-time for much of her career. Her achievements include six Nature group papers, £20M in research grants, translational work with industry, advising government, public engagement work with patient groups and schools.
Rachel is the lead investigator of a major NIHR i4i programme to develop mobile diagnostics for HIV with OJ-Bio and Director of i-sense, an £11M EPSRC IRC in Early Warning Sensing Systems for Infectious Diseases. i-sense brings together multidisciplinary teams from UCL, Imperial College London, the London School for Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Newcastle University, Surrey University, Public Health England, UCL Partners, UCLH and Newcastle NIHR Biomedical Research Centres and industry, including OJ-Bio, Microsoft and Telefonica.
The Rosalind Franklin Award comprises a medal, accompanied by a grant of £30,000. The recipient of the award is expected to spend a proportion of the grant on implementing a project to raise the profile of women in STEM. More details of Rachel’s plans to launch a national competition to develop mobile phone apps will be announced in early 2015.