A psychology professor whose research on childhood development has helped to teach children safe behaviour with dogs has been recognised for her work with a Suffrage Women in Science Award.
Professor Kerstin Meints from the University of Lincoln’s School of Psychology specialises in the study of infant and child development and human-animal interaction. Her interdisciplinary work has seen the creation of language assessment tools as well as educational tools. The latter are designed to help children and parents behave safely with dogs and to recognise when a dog might be distressed, which can in turn lead to a reduction in dog bite incidents.
She has now been presented with the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences (MRC LMS) Suffrage Women in Science Award which celebrates women in science for their scientific achievement, their ability to inspire others, and for encouraging women to enter scientific subjects and to stay in those fields.
The award itself is represented through a piece of specially-designed jewellery, a brooch which symbolises the Suffrage movement. The brooch comes in a box with ribbons depicting the three colours of the suffrage movement: green, white and purple. In the UK, those colours were worn by the Women’s Social and Political Union, led by Emmeline Pankhurst.
Professor Meints, who is the director of the Lincoln Infant and Child Development Lab, will keep the jewellery for the next two years before choosing her own nominee to pass it on to. The aim is to create a network of connected female scientists around the world who help to inspire others to enter science, and to stay.
Professor Meints said: “I feel very honoured to receive this award. I will do my very best to inspire, encourage and mentor women in science and to help them to speak up, be visible and reach their goals.
“For the next two years, and beyond, I will dedicate time to supporting colleagues and students through mentoring. I believe that encouragement and a belief that they can achieve what they aim for is vital to succeed.
“Handing on the Suffrage Science jewellery is a vote of confidence by one female scientist for another, and I look forward to nominating the next awardee in two years’ time.”
Professor Meints was one of twelve scientists to receive an award. They were presented on International Women’s Day 2017, to recognise their scientific achievements and ability to inspire others.
She was nominated by previous winner Professor Susan Condor, a social psychologist at Loughborough University whose work addresses identity and prejudice in England. Professor Condor said: “Professor Kerstin Meints’ BabyLab at Lincoln is pioneering innovative work which brings together research on infant and toddler communicative development with knowledge of animal behaviour. Her research on how young children misinterpret dogs’ facial expressions has led to the development of successful educational tools for dog bite prevention.”
The ceremony was hosted by science communicator Dr Kat Arney and took place at the Royal Society in London. It included a discussion which explored boundaries in science, be those by gender, by nationality or by scientific discipline, with three panellists.
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