The work of two women who set up an initiative to highlight the work of women in science has been saluted by Prime Minister David Cameron.

They have been named among the latest recipients of the PM’s Points of Light Award after spearheading the Soapbox Science project.

Seirian Sumner is a senior lecturer in behavioural biology at the University of Bristol and Nathalie Pettorelli, from Stevenage, is a research fellow at the Institute of Zoology.

Both passionately believe in the need for more positive and inspirational female role models in science. They knew world-leading female researchers and academics in their jobs, but felt that there were too few of them and that the public face of science still seemed to be dominated by men.

Mr Cameron said:“Through Soapbox Science, Seirian and Nathalie have inspired scores of leading female scientists from around the country to get out on to the streets and encourage girls to learn more about the opportunities open to them through science. It’s so important that girls feel as able as boys to pursue a career in science and it’s great that thousands of people can look to Seirian and Nathalie as role models. I am delighted to recognise them both by making them Points of Light.”

Nathalie said: ““We’re trying to show that science is more than labs, microscopes, computers – it’s also about meeting people, working in teams, solving questions that can benefit society, creating, and being open minded about how things work and how they might work in the future.”

Seirian added: “Inspiring the next generation of scientists is not just about getting kids hooked on science, it’s also about convincing their families and friends that science is important and amazing, and that a career in science is a valuable and rewarding career path to follow. Soapbox Science aims to bring science to every facet of society, with a special emphasis on providing inspirational women in science as role models.”

Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland said: “I am incredibly proud Nathalie has won this award. Her programme is inspiring and a wonderful reminder to celebrate Women In Engineers week. I am delighted to support anything that helps to promotes inspiring females in science.”

Founded in 2011, Soapbox Science aims to bring science to the streets to make it accessible to everyone, and works with the UK’s top female academics giving talks and demonstrations to make women in science more visible.

So far this year more than 10,000 people have attended free public lectures about science in venues from London’s Southbank to Belfast’s Botanic Gardens and this year is the busiest series of events for the team, with seven events across the UK and nearly 100 female scientists taking part.

You can find out more about the initiative at

The Point of Light awards recognise outstanding individual volunteers, people who are making a change in their community and inspiring others. Each day, someone somewhere in the country is selected to receive the award – the duo are the 274th and 275th winners.