Celebrating Women in Science

Since the founding of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine in 1899, women have made important contributions to the advancement of science and public health. Over time, professional opportunities have expanded for women, reflected in their changing roles and responsibilities at the School. In the early days of the School, a select few women were provided with specialist training in tropical medicine. They, in turn, supported scientific and public health efforts to reduce the burden of disease across the British Empire. Women also made inroads in the School’s laboratories, as well as giving support to male staff during their travels overseas .

To celebrate the contributions women have made to science and public health, an exhibition, Women in Science, is now open in the Reception and Manson Foyer of the School’s Keppel Street building. Presenting materials selected from the School’s archives and the work of present-day staff, students and alumni, this exhibit captures the breadth and depth of scientific and public health research conducted by women affiliated with the School, both past and present. The exhibition is open from 10.00 am – 4:00 pm until Monday 27 April 2015.

New model of Keppel Street Building

Given that few women were in the fields of tropical medicine and public health when the Keppel Street building was opened in 1929, perhaps it is not surprising that the names of 23 men – without reference to any women – adorn the frieze on the exterior of the School. Now, a model of the Keppel Street building has been created which displays, in place of the existing men’s names, the names of women who have made contributions to science and public health.  

Keppel Street Building

Some names have already been chosen, but four name gaps remain. During the Women in Science exhibition, the School is asking for suggestions of names for the most inspirational women in science who — on their merit and regardless of affiliation — deserve to be shown on this model of the Keppel Street building. The actual building is Grade II listed and, therefore, it is not possible to change the names enshrined in the façade. The School is inviting staff, students and alumni to vote for the most inspirational women in science – historical or present. The four names with the most votes will be added to the model which will be displayed for the rest of the Women in Science exhibition. Please send your suggestions to alumni@lshtm.ac.uk by Friday, 6th March. Please include one name only, and the reason for your choice.

The women who have already been chosen to be included in the model are: 

Sara Josephine Baker: She was the first director of New York’s Bureau of Child Hygiene and an instrumental force in child and maternal health in the United States.

Sally Davies: The first woman Chief Medical Officer for England, and previously Director General of Research and Development and Chief Scientific Adviser for the Department of Health and National Health Service in the United Kingdom.

Rosalind Franklin: An English chemist and X-ray crystallographer who made critical contributions to the understanding of the fine molecular structures of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), RNA (ribonucleic acid), viruses, coal, and graphite.

Ada Lovelace: An English mathematician, known for her work on Charles Babbage’s early mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine.

Ann MillsAnne Mills: Deputy Director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Anne was made a Dame for her pioneering research on the provision of efficient and equitable health care in low and middle income countries.

Muriel Robertson FRS: Honoured for pioneering work on trypanosomes, protozoa that cause sleeping sickness and Chagas Disease.

Cicely Williams: Discovered kwashiorkor, a condition of advanced malnutrition in small children. Cicely also campaigned against the use of sweetened condensed milk and other artificial baby milks as substitutes for human breast milk.


  1. Moira Rowan

    Does the nominee have to be connected to Tropical medicine, I nurse a prof June Lloyd who received a title for her work on diabetes and child obesity, she died a number of years ago but was very gifted in the work she did

    • Martha Crowley

      Dear Moira, the nominee doesn’t have to be connected to tropical medicine so please do submit your vote for June Lloyd.