Jen Gupta at computer during talk

Meet the women driving our research

Discover the women making an impact through their research at the University of Portsmouth

We’ve nurtured and celebrated women’s achievements from our earliest beginnings as Portsmouth Municipal College.

The suffragette Elsie Hooper blazed a trail here in the early 1900s, teaching the science of plants as medicine to our pharmacy students. Elsie was the first woman to receive two prestigious research awards: the Redwood Research Scholarship and the Pharmaceutical Society’s Burroughs Scholarship. Elsie opened her own pharmacies in London where she employed and mentored female apprentices.

Over 100 years later, women continue to play a leading role in driving our ambitions and are carving out new knowledge and understanding in science, the humanities, technology, the arts and business.

The research conducted by our female scholars is varied, and covers the areas of health, security, the environment, the arts and crime. It is all breaking new ground and making a difference to what we know and how we live. Through their teaching, they’re inspiring a new generation to go further still.

Dr Joanne Preston, Reader in Marine Ecology and Evolution

Dr Joanne Preston is playing a crucial role in protecting our vulnerable and important coastal habitats, which have suffered significant and devastating losses over the last 200 years. She is providing scientific leadership on a number of national and international habitat restoration projects, particularly oyster reefs, seagrass and saltmarshes. Jo founded the UK and Ireland Native Oyster Restoration Network and is helping to reintroduce one million native oysters to the Solent. She is also a passionate advocate of effective science communication to support changes in policy and the sustainable management of marine resources.
Dr Joanne Preston
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Professor Joanna Wakefield-Scurr, Professor of Biomechanics

Professor Joanna Wakefield-Scurr has devoted her entire career to sports biomechanics. She is the founder and Head of the pioneering Research Group in Breast Health, which investigates the importance of proper breast support, and the lifechanging benefits it can have on sports participation and performance and women’s health. The Research Group is responsible for more than half of the scientific publications in the field and Jo works with many major lingerie, sports bra, and sporting apparel manufacturers around the world.
Professor Joanna Wakefield-Scurr
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Amy Wright, Senior Lecturer

Amy Wright is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Sport, Health and Exercise Science. She began her career in elite sport supporting British athletics and GB Archery, before turning her attention to biomechanics. Amy’s primary research interests lie within stroke rehabilitation and the use of robotic tools to support this. She is part of the Physical Activity, Health and Rehabilitation Thematic Research Group, and Clinical, Health and Rehabilitation Research Team (CHaRT) at Portsmouth. Her work on a collaborative study investigating the use of a robotic leg device to support those with chronic stroke at home received both national and international attention.
Amy Wright
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Christina Philippou, Programme Lead (PGT Accounting, Economics and Finance)

Following a career in industry as a forensic accountant, Christina now conducts research where accounting, corporate governance, and economic crime interact with sport. Christina is also Director of Policy for Fair Game, a group of football clubs supported by experts and politicians, campaigning to improve football governance. She coordinates policy advisors across the country to ensure clubs are run well financially, respect equality standards and properly engage with their fans and their community.
Christina Philippou
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Dr Victoria Bemmer, Senior Research Fellow

Dr Victoria Bemmer is at the forefront of the University's plastic degrading enzyme research. An expert in surface analysis techniques, her work focuses on how solution-based enzymes interact with solid surfaces. She is passionate about finding a sustainable option to recycling waste plastics and stop it ending up being discarded in landfill or incinerated.

As part of the latest project from the Centre for Enzyme Innovation Victoria is working towards the development of 'plastic-eating’ enzymes that could help solve the ever-growing problem of waste polyester clothing, testing the compatibility of engineered enzymes with the additives, dyes and solvents found in textiles.
Victoria Bemmer for Women in Research
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Dr Lucinda King, Space Projects Manager

Lucinda is based within the University's Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation, and is part of the core team delivering the University's Mission Space strategy and establishing the Portsmouth Research Institute for Space Missions (PRISM). She is involved with many space-related activities at the University, and is leading the development of a Space Mission Incubator service. This service will give researchers across the UK (and further afield) access to broad interdisciplinary expertise and industrial mission design experience that will facilitate the transformation of their scientific ideas into tangible mission concepts.
Cosmology Photography Headshots
Lucinda King
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Dr Smita Sahu, Research Fellow

Dr Smita Sahu is an expert in mathematical modelling for lithium-ion batteries. Her work aims to design better, cheaper batteries that charge more quickly and degrade less, which has numerous applications in electric cars, mobile phones, laptops and other electronic devices. Dr Sahu is also one of the key developers of Dandeliion, a collaborative project between the universities of Portsmouth and Southampton, and Imperial College London, which allows manufacturers to digitally design advanced lithium-ion batteries without creating numerous physical prototypes.
Dr Smita Sahu for Women in Research
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Dr Seda Sucu Sagmanli, Research Fellow

Dr Seda Sucu Sagmanli is a research fellow in applied operational research and a member of the Centre for Operational Research and Logistics (CORL). Her current research monitors and evaluates the impact of ‘Mobility as a Service’, digital transport service platforms, on an individuals’ travel behaviour. The research is being carried out as part of the Solent Future Transport Zone, a trial programme funded by the Department for Transport to help make journeys easier, smarter and greener. Dr Sucu Sagmanli has also worked on new energy and resources from urban sanitation (NEREUS), a project which aimed to increase the reuse of resources, water and energy from wastewater in urban areas. Dr Sucu Sagmanli led the design and development of an online web-based decision support tool.
Dr Seda Secu Sagmanli for Women in Research
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Dr Lana Chikhungu, Senior Lecturer in International Development Studies

An alumni of the University of Malawi, and formerly an economist for the Malawi National Economic Council and employee of the Malawi Ministry of Finance, Dr Lana Chikhungu’s research focuses on child and maternal health, gender and poverty alleviation in Sub-Saharan Africa with a focus on Malawi. As part of a team of researchers in the Portsmouth-Brawijaya Centre for Global Health, Population and Policy, Lana is analysing the 2015 Malawi Demographic and Health Survey data sets to uncover factors influencing violence against women in Malawi and the trends and patterns of child undernutrition in the country.
Headshot of Dr Lana Chikhungu
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Dr Jen Gupta, Senior Public Engagement and Outreach Fellow

Astrophysicist, Jen Gupta, runs our physics schools outreach programme, supports researchers from the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation (ICG) to develop new ways to engage the public in research, and is a regular presenter on TV and radio, including co-hosting the BBC Radio 4 show Stranger Than Sci-Fi. Recognised by the Royal Astronomical Society as a leading female astronomer, Jen’s work centres around championing greater understanding of astronomy, and inspiring a new generation of scientists.
Headshot of Dr Jen Gupta
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Dr Cressida Bowyer, Senior Research Fellow

Dr Cressida Bowyer is a champion for cross-disciplinary research within the themes of sustainability and the environment, and health and wellbeing. As a lead researcher in the AIR Network project, Cressida is working towards innovative, participatory solutions to air pollution in Sub-Saharan Africa alongside her mission to help reduce plastic pollution in developing countries through arts-based projects with local communities.
Headshot of Dr Cressida Bowyer
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Professor Claudia Maraston, Theoretical Astrophysicist

Theoretical astrophysicist, Dr Claudia Maraston analyses big data using supercomputers to understand how stars and galaxies have evolved over billions of years. Professor Maraston holds the Royal Astronomical Society’s Eddington Medal for Astronomy for creating new models to better understand the mysteries of space. She is driven by the thrill of discovery, a passion to inspire others, and the certainty that all scientific research will be challenged – including her own.
Claudia Maraston
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Professor Becky Milne, Forensic Psychologist

Forensic psychologist, Professor Becky Milne works in the area of criminal justice studies. She’s spent decades fine-tuning the psychology of questioning, helping improve how the UK fights crime. Professor Milne helps the police, fire service and paramedics with communication and interviewing skills using the latest knowledge and discoveries about memory, communication and decision-making. Her work makes interviewers more competent and ethical, helps cases get to court, and reduces the likelihood of miscarriages of justice.
Professor Becky Milne
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Dr Juliane Kaminski, Reader in Comparative Psychology

Dr Juliane Kaminski is an expert in the evolution of social cognition. Her research into our understanding of others’ perception, knowledge, intentions, desires and beliefs uses a comparative approach, through observation of our closest living relatives, the great apes, and our closest living domesticated species, the domesticated dog. Juliane explores how different animals see the world and others as individuals, to ultimately understand how that is different (or similar) to how we as humans understand our environment.
Headshot of Dr Juliane Kaminski
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Dr Erika Hughes, Senior Lecturer in Drama and Performance

Dr Erika Hughes was inspired to help society understand, support and mend the mental wounds of war veterans after seeing her brother struggle when he returned from fighting for his country. Dr Hughes puts veterans on stage to talk about their experience of war, from Vietnam, to Iraq and Afghanistan, helping them – and theatre audiences – to drop the ‘hero’ image. The project has so far helped more than 50 military veterans talk about their experiences while giving hundreds of members of the public a better understanding of the military and life in the armed forces.
Dr Erika Hughes
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Caroline Cox, Senior Lecturer in Law

Formerly a solicitor specialising in trusts and probate tax, Caroline Cox leads a team of academics working to tackle the illegal ivory trade. Caroline’s team worked with the UK Government and police forces to close a loophole that allowed the sale of illegal ivory, increasing the demand for elephant tusks worldwide. She also works with academics at the University of Botswana to investigate the effect the country’s shoot-to-kill policy for poachers has on ranger deaths after more than 400 rangers were killed by poachers in one year.
Caroline Cox
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Dr Judith Fletcher-Brown, Social Marketer

Judith Fletcher-Brown used her recovery from breast cancer to launch a new educational initiative to help some of the world’s poorest women win their own battles with the disease. She’s working with community nurses in India, a country with deep cultural taboos around cancer and the fastest growing incidence-rate of breast cancer in the world, to find engaging ways to reach women with information on self-examination and breast cancer treatment.
Judith Fletcher-Brown
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Lisa Jack, Accountant

Traceability is one of the biggest problems facing today’s food and drink industry. Low profit margins force some stakeholders to cut corners while complex supply chains lead to mislabelled products. This damages consumer confidence and puts them at risk of unsafe products. Professor of Accounting, Lisa Jack, researches how the food industry sets up systems of traceability and how data analytics and machine learning make it easier for businesses in the food supply chain to address unsustainable and unethical practices.
Lisa Jack
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Carmen Solana, Reader in Volcanology and Risk Communication

Dr Carmen Solana is a volcanologist – a geologist who studies volcanoes. She specialises in hazards caused by ‘effusive’ volcanism, which is when lava flows steadily out of a volcano. She researches how these fiery rivers move and behave, their speed and impact, and recovery costs and evacuation times. As well as monitoring active volcanoes and helping to forecast eruptions, Carmen investigates, maps and models the perceptions, effects and impacts of hurricanes, landslides and tsunamis. Her research reduces the devastating impact of volcanoes and other natural disasters on populations all around the world.
Carmen Solana
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Dr Claire Nee, Forensic Psychologist

Forensic psychologist Dr Claire Nee was one of the first people in the world to ask ex-offenders to re-enact their crimes in virtual reality. Her research throws a blinding light on the thorny question of how to protect our homes from crime. Dr Nee’s work is changing the way police and insurance companies advise people to avoid certain crimes and is bringing new techniques and approaches to those who rehabilitate criminals.
Claire Nee
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Professor Djamila Ouelhadj, Senior Lecturer in Operational Research

Djamila Ouelhadj is Senior Lecturer in Operational Research and a member of the Logistics and Operational Research Group (LORG) in the Department of Mathematics. Her research interests include Operational Research and the development of novel mathematical optimisation models, advanced meta-heuristic methods, and intelligent decision support systems for automatically producing high quality solutions to a wide range of real world optimisation, scheduling and logistics problems.
Professor Djamila Ouelhadj
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News, blogs and Life Solved podcasts from our women in research

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