On the seventh day of STEMmas… Dawn Balmer

Our seventh splendid woman in STEM is Dawn Balmer, who discovered that black swans really aren’t as rare as we think they are.

Dawn runs several large-scale bird surveys, including the Wetland Bird Survey, Breeding Bird Survey, BirdTrack, Waterways Breeding Bird Survey and Heronries Census, and has a “long-term interest in migration and movements of birds and population dynamics”. She was the co-ordinator for the Bird Altas 2007–11, the “most in-depth survey of the breeding and distribution of Britain’s birds ever carried out”, which discovered that there are at least 37 pairs, and maybe as many as 111 pairs, of black swans breeding in the wild in the UK.

Twitter: @debalmer

On the sixth day of STEMmas… Anne Harrison

Anne Harrison

Our sixth superb woman in STEM is Anne Harrison, who works on wetland conservation, including saving rare geese.

Anne is a “conservation ecologist with an interest in the function and biodiversity of wetlands, in particular how wetlands can provide multiple benefits to society, from water quality improvements and flood attenuation to human health and wellbeing. Recent work involves assessing the treatment efficiency of  WWT’s wetland treatment systems through interrogation of long-term water quality data.” Anne’s current projects include saving the Greenland White-fronted Goose, and the conservation of the wintering grounds of the globally threatened Red-breasted Goose.

On the fifth day of STEMmas… Dr Dominique Tanner

Dr Dominique Tanner

Our fifth terrific woman in STEM is Dr Dominique Tanner, who studies how metals like gold are concentrated by volcanic processes.

Dominique says that her “research passion is using petrology and geochemistry to understand how magmatic and/or hydrothermal processes create economic concentrations of metals in the Earth’s crust”. She uses tools like “electron microscopy, mass spectrometry and spectroscopy to investigate metallogenesis and characterise complex mineral assemblages.” She is also “passionate about promoting Earth sciences through tertiary education and outreach.”

Twitter: @DrDomTanner

On the fourth day of STEMmas… Professor Gail L Patricelli

Gail Patricelli

Our fourth fabulous woman in STEM is Professor Gail Patricelli, who studies bird courtship.

Gail studies “animal communication and sexual selection, with a focus on understanding the amazing diversity and complexity in animals signals.” One of her current projects examines the “causes and functional implications of directional sound radiation in songbirds”. Gail has used video cameras and robots to study Australian bowerbirds and the North American greater sage-grouse, both of which have complex mating rituals. Her use of robotic female birds has helped her to more clearly understand courtship and the evolution of exaggerated male traits.

Twitter: @GailPatricelli


On the third day of STEMmas… Dr B Tyr Fothergill

Our third awesome woman in STEM is Dr Tyr Fothergill, who studies human-chicken interactions.

Tyr is an “archaeologist who studies the recent past, the post-medieval or historical period, [who is] keen to investigate how our ways of thinking about the period from about AD 1500 to the present day can feed into critical heritage approaches.” Tyr is currently studying the “Cultural and Scientific Perceptions of Human-Chicken Interactions, mainly involving the application of zooarchaeological approaches (including palaeopathology and osteometrics) to archaeological materials in order to create fresh and nuanced understandings of chicken breeding and husbandry from domestication to the present day.”

Twitter: @FothergillTyr