The Ri celebrates women in science

The Ri will celebrate women in science with its first ever all women line-up for a year of Friday Evening Discourses.

Prof Pratibha Gai, Friday Evening Discourse speaker and winner of the  L’Oréal – UNESCO European For Women In Science Laureate 2013.
Julian Dufort for the L’Oréal Foundation

2014 line-up

JanuaryA century of symmetry discovered: a crystallographer’s taleProf Judith Howard, Department of Chemistry, University of Durham

FebruaryThe neuroscience of memory – travels through space and time Prof Eleanor Maguire, Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging, University College London

MarchToo much of a good thing?Aoife McLysaght, Trinity College Dublin, Molecular Evolution Lab

AprilThe science of laughterProf Sophie Scott,  Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London

MayResisting temptation - the biology of appetiteProf Sadaf Farooqi, Metabolic Research Laboratories, University of Cambridge

JuneAtoms in actionProf Pratibha Gai, The York JEOL Nanocentre, University of York

SeptemberMysteries of matter at the LHCPippa Wells, CERN, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics

OctoberPowering ahead with solar energyProf Lesley Yellowlees, President of the Royal Society of Chemistry

NovemberTopology, geometry and life in three dimensionsProf Caroline Series, Warwick Mathematics Institute, University of WarwickOur Friday Evening Discourses always take place on the last Friday of the month except for July and August.


Since 1825 we have welcomed some of the world’s greatest scientific minds, including 50 Nobel Prize winners, to our lecture theatre to share their latest research with the public.

In 2014 we are pleased to celebrate the achievements of women in science today with our first ever all women line-up for a year of Friday Evening Discourses.

Over the course of the year, leading scientists from across the UK and the Republic of Ireland will give a Friday Evening Discourse – a traditional monthly lecture open to both Ri members and non-members - on cutting-edge science in areas as diverse as crystallography, molecular evolution, the neuroscience of memory, genetics and obesity, geometry and electrochemistry.

Our 2014 speakers include Lesley Yellowlees, the first woman president of the Royal Society of Chemistry; Pratibha Gai who was named the 2013 European Laureate in the 15th annual L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Awards; and Sophie Scott, well-known neuroscientist, columnist and stand up comedian.

Gail Cardew, Director of Science and Education, said: “I am delighted that in 2014 we will showcase some of the world-class scientific research being carried out by women.

“My favourite aspect of the Discourses is that our members and the general public are able to hear from the scientists in person and learn about such a diverse range of intellectually fascinating areas of science in the intimate setting of our historic lecture theatre.

She added: “Our mission is to encourage everyone to think further about the wonders of science and so I am very pleased that a selection of these 2014 Discourses will be made available online on our video platform, the Ri Channel, so that anyone anywhere in the world will be able to benefit too.”

The first woman to present a Friday Evening Discourse at the Royal Institution was British archaeologist Joan Evans (1893-1977) on 8 June 1923, whose lecture was entitled 'Jewels of the Renaissance'.

Other well-known women who have given a Discourse at the Ri to date include zoologist Jane Goodall in October 1965; Barbara Ward, an early pioneer of sustainable development who spoke in 1973; and Kathleen Lonsdale who presented twice about crystallography in 1949 and 1961 and returned in January 1970 to talk about women in science.

Full details of the first four Friday Evening Discourses of 2014 taking place between January and April can be found in our What's On section.

We will also host this year's Ada Lovelace Day on 14 October.

Ri blog

To coincide with the Ri’s 2014 calendar of Friday Evening Discourses, Frank James, the Ri’s Professor of the History of Science, will publish a monthly blog on the Ri website to highlight the scientific and other achievements of the many women associated with the Ri over its 215 year history. His first entry profiles Kathleen Lonsdale; the X-ray crystallographer, Quaker and pacifist whose research at the Ri was conducted under the shadow of World War II.

Please visit to find out more.