Ada Lovelace Day Live! 2016

This year’s Ada Lovelace Day Live!, our annual ‘science cabaret’ in celebration of women in STEM, was held at The IET on the evening of 11 October. Playing host to the UK’s most fabulous women in STEM, ALD Live is an entertaining evening of geekery, comedy and music suitable for everyone over the age of 12. 


We had a fabulous line-up of speakers:

Yewande Akinola

Yewande Akinola Yewande Akinola is a design engineer. Her engineering experience and responsibilities include the design of sustainable water supply systems and the engineering design coordination of large projects in the built environment. She has worked on projects in the UK, Africa, Middle East and East Asia. She has won several awards including the UK Young Woman Engineer of the year (Institute of Engineering and Technology 2012), UK 35 Under 35 (Management Today’s 35 Women Under 35 2013) and UK Outstanding Woman in STEM (PRECIOUS Award 2014.) Her professional specialties are water, design for manufacture and assembly project engineering and innovation management.


Dr Sheila Kanani

Sheila KananiDr Sheila Kanani is a planetary physicist, science presenter, secondary school physics teacher and space comedienne with a background in astrophysics and astronomy research from UK universities. She is currently the education, outreach and diversity officer for the Royal Astronomical Society in London. Her research has taken her to the Jodrell Bank Observatory, an Australian telescope facility searching for exoplanets in Sydney and to an old mansion in Surrey where she used the Cassini spacecraft to study the Lord of the Rings, Saturn. Sheila teaches and mentors at Space School UK, is a STEM ambassador for science and enjoys visiting schools, giving talks and workshops, and inspiring future astronauts of any age! She has a keen interest in science comedy in pubs, theatres and science festivals and plays the saxophone and field hockey in her spare time.

Web – Twitter

Dr Kat Arney

Kat ArneyDr Kat Arney is a science writer and broadcaster whose work has featured in the New Scientist, Wired, The Guardian, the Times Educational Supplement, BBC Radio 4, the Naked Scientists and more. She has just published her critically-acclaimed first book, Herding Hemingway’s Cats, about how our genes work– according to the journal Nature it’s “A witty, clued-up report from the front lines of genetics”, while Radiolab presenter Robert Krulwich describes it as “a gorgeously written, surprisingly gripping introduction to everything we’ve learned about genes”.

Web – Twitter

Dr Sara Santos

Sara SantosA mathematician by training, Dr Sara Santos set-up Maths Busking in 2010 doing maths as street entertainment. Nowadays she entertains at corporate events, festivals and schools. She is a member of the Raising Public Awareness committee of the European Mathematical Society. Sara loves maths, hats and Portuguese custard tarts.

Web – Twitter


Dr Anna Jones

Anna JonesThrough her career as an atmospheric chemist, Dr Anna Jones has studied the effect of stratospheric aircraft on the ozone layer, the ozone hole over Antarctica, how signals in the atmosphere are recorded in ice cores, and how snow and ice over the remote Antarctic control the composition of the continent’s atmosphere. After completing her PhD at Cambridge University, she joined the British Antarctic Survey, and enjoyed it so much that she stayed!! She currently runs BAS’s atmospheric chemistry group, including their laboratory in coastal Antarctica (which she designed) as well as field research projects in both polar regions.


Jenny Duckett

Jenny DuckettJenny Duckett is a senior developer at the Government Digital Service. She’s worked on GOV.UK for three years and is technical lead of one of the teams which build and maintain the site. Her interests include databases, security, functional programming, helping people and organisations develop, and occasionally making cakes to celebrate her team’s work.  Jenny graduated in Social Anthropology before becoming a freelance classical musician. She became interested in learning to code after transcribing early baroque string music using LilyPond and wanting to be able to write extensions for it in Scheme. She went on to teach herself Python and Django and worked at a startup before joining GDS.


Dr Bissan Al-Lazikani

Bissan Al-LazikaniDr Bissan Al-Lazikani is a computational biologist for Cancer Research UK working on cutting-edge, multidisciplinary computational techniques for drug discovery in cancer. She has the led the development of the world’s largest cancer knowledgebase, canSAR, which brings together information about a faulty genes and proteins to understand whether a new drug might work. Bissan and her team are expanding their approaches to tackling cancer drug resistance, one of the biggest challenges in cancer research today.

Web – Twitter

Helen Keen, compère

Helen KeenHelen Keen is an award winning comedy writer and performer. She began her career by winning the first Channel 4 New Comedy Writing prize, and her first solo stand up show, It Is Rocket Science, launched three critically acclaimed series on BBC Radio 4 and won numerous awards including the Royal Society Association of British Science Writers’ prize. Her first radio documentary, Finding Your Voice, about selective mutism, was nominated for a Mind Media Award and her new comedy series, Big Problems With Helen Keen, debuted this year. She has appeared live at the Latitude Festival, the Science Museum, and the Royal Institution and has been a guest on R4’s Infinite Monkey Cage (also touring with the Uncaged Monkeys) and on R4’s Museum of Curiosity. Helen was appointed the first Comedian in Residence at Newcastle University’s Centre for Life Science Village and compered the first ever live comedy night at CERN, Large Hadron Comedy, before joining the Stargazing Live live roadshow as a comedian & history of space travel expert. She was a guest stand-up on the second TV series of The Alternative Comedy Experience (curated by Stewart Lee) on Comedy Central.  In 2015 she was selected as an Innovation Fellow by WIRED magazine, and her first popular science book The Science of Game of Thrones will be published later this year. Photo by Claes Gellerbrink

Web – Twitter


We are very grateful to our venue partner this year, The IET Women’s Network. The IET is one of the world’s leading professional societies for the engineering and technology community, with more than 150,000 members in 127 countries and offices in Europe, North America and Asia-Pacific. The IET provides a global knowledge network to facilitate the exchange of ideas and promote the positive role of science, engineering and technology in the world.

Twitter: @IETWomenNetwork


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With thanks to our sponsors

We would like to thank ARM, the Royal Astronomical SocietyUCL Engineering, Siemens Rail Automationfigshare, MendeleyDigital ScienceAda Diamonds and Meromorf Press for their support of Ada Lovelace Day in 2016, as well as The IET, our venue partner.