University Professor named joint winner of Outstanding Woman in STEM Award 

Date: Tuesday 17th October, 2023

An esteemed university Professor has been named joint winner of the Women’s Awards Outstanding Woman in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Award 2023.

Alison McMillan, Professor of Aerospace Technology at Prifysgol Wrecsam/Wrexham University, was named winner for the West Midlands region. 

The Outstanding Woman in STEM Award formed part of the seventh annual Women’s Awards, which aim to not only celebrate the outstanding achievements of women but also to raise awareness, recognise and honour the hard work and valuable contribution women of all cultures, communities, races, and beliefs, in all sectors make.

 Professor McMillan was nominated by a former colleague called David Hayes, who at the time that they worked together, Mr Hayes was Head of Export Control Expert for Rolls-Royce Group.    

Speaking after winning the award, Professor McMillan said: “I feel extremely honoured to have been announced as one of the joint winners of Outstanding Woman in STEM in the West Midlands.

“I never expected to be a winner. The most important thing for me was, and still is, to have been nominated in the first place because being nominated means being acknowledged.

“There are far too many great women out there whose work, actions and achievements are under-recognised and who deserve acknowledgement. If you are reading this and thinking of someone you know, please nominate them for next year's event, or for another award.

“I’d like to also take this opportunity to thank David Hayes for my nomination, as well as thank and acknowledge the terrific role of Sandra Pollock OBE, who is the champion who instigated the Woman’s Awards, and also to all the judges, organisers and everyone who played a part in its running.” 

As part of the nomination process, nominees were asked to write a statement of their achievements. Just this year, Professor McMillan was recognised for contributing to a paper relating to Covid-19 pandemic modelling which was ranked in the top five most highly cited by the Royal Society – the world’s oldest scientific academy. 

 Recently, Professor McMillan has been leading a project called ‘The Relief of Our Planet’ (TROOP), which is examining narratives around climate change and actions to mitigate it.  This is aligned to the new discipline of Transition Engineering – developing, planning and designing infrastructure to enable the transition of a whole population to move comfortably to a lower carbon sustainable mode of living.   

“People need a narrative telling them what progress looks like, and to be involved in discussions, so that they can plan without fear, for what that progress looks like for them,” Professor McMillan said.  

“By "progress" I mean progress towards energy transition, which would ultimately mean radical curtailment of private cars, massive public transport infrastructure development, district heating infrastructure – a world of work where much more is done from home, where possible, or a workspace within walking distance.  

“Eventually, such a system should provide the basis for a more equitable society, but initially the driver is to reduce energy usage and be much less wasteful of resources.  The engineering – and other STEM – work is to create the systems that will be needed to bring such a vision into fruition, but must engage equitably with all in society to understand and specify the needs.” 

Dr Stewart Eyres, Interim Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Science and Technology at Wrexham University, added: “I’m delighted to congratulate Professor McMillan on being announced as the joint winner of the West Midlands Outstanding Woman in STEM Award 2023. 

“This recognition reflects Professor McMillan’s exceptional contributions and novel thinking in the field of Transition Engineering, and enhances Alison’s impact within the university and beyond, as well as for our students. Seeing a woman lead thinking in this area demonstrates the necessity of a diversity of views and contributors to make our transition to a sustainable future a reality.”