Ep 10: Elen Gwynne & Prof Jim Al-Khalili OBE

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Welcome to the Ada Lovelace Day podcast, highlighting the work of women in STEM. Each month, we talk to women from around the STEM world about their careers, as well as talking to women and men, about historic and modern women’s achievements, discoveries, and inventions.

In this episode

00:42: Computer programmer Elen Gwynne talks about how she transitioned from astrophysics to software.

20:50: Discovery (Invention!) of the Month – The Compiler

24:45: Professor Jim Al-Khalili OBE talks about the first woman to become a professor of physics in the UK, Professor Daphne Jackson.

Elen GwynneOur interviewees

Elen Gwynne

Elen Gwynne is a software programmer in London. She studied astrophysics at Edinburgh, where she was introduced to computer programming. After a programming based summer placement, she decided to take up programming as a career.

Professor Jim Al-Khalili OBE

Jim Al-KhaliliJim Al-Khalili is a theoretical nuclear physicist, author and broadcaster based at the University of Surrey in England. He received his PhD in nuclear reaction theory in 1989 and has published over a hundred research papers in the field. He is a well-known presenter of TV and radio in Britain and his many popular science books have been translated into 26 languages. He is a recipient of the Royal Society of London’s Michael Faraday medal and the Institute of Physics Kelvin Medal. In 2016 he received the inaugural Stephen Hawking medal for science communication. He lives in Southsea in Hampshire with his wife Julie.

Jim has two new books out, Aliens: Science Asks: Is There Anyone Out There? and Quantum Mechanics (A Ladybird Expert Book), and you can listen to him interview a wide variety of women (and men!) in STEM in The Life Scientific on BBC Radio Four.

You can find out more about Jim on his website or Wikipedia, and can follow him at Twitter @jimalkhalili.

If you’d like to to know more about Professor Daphne Jackson you can take a look at her Wikipedia page, and if you’re a woman in STEM thinking about returning, take a look at the Daphne Jackson Trust website.

Discovery of the Month

More of an invention than a discovery, the first compiler was written in 1951 by mathematician and programmer Grace Hopper, who would go on to become a Rear Admiral in the US Navy. She also suggested as early as 1949 that computer programming languages might use English keywords.

You can read an imagined conversation with Hopper on the Libertine website.

Thanks to our sponsor

This podcast is brought to you thanks to the generous support of ARM, our exclusive semiconductor industry sponsor. You can learn more about ARM on their website at ARM.com and you can follow them on Twitter at @ARMHoldings.

If you would like to join ARM as a sponsor of the Ada Lovelace Day Podcast, please email us.

Get in touch!

If you’d like to send us feedback about the show, or if you’d like to take part, please email us. We’re especially interested in hear from men who would like to talk to us about the women in STEM who have influenced them, especially those women who are less well known.


Episode edited by Andrew Marks.

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