Ten BES women you should know about

Sunday the 8th of March is International Women Day’s, a day to celebrate women’s contributions to society, raises awareness about the fight for gender parity, and inspires support for organizations that help women globally.

This day seems the perfect occasion to highlight the women involved in the British Ecological Society (BES) who give substantial amount of their time and energy to make sure the BES is a dynamic, relevant, inclusive and fun society to be part of. It is a great opportunity to put a face to the volunteers that drive the Society forward.

As a society with a decades long history and thousands of members, there are admittedly many women that should be applauded by the BES on International Women’s Day – but I’m going to focus on ten of them (they did say to “amplify the voices of at least 10 women scientists” on Twitter!), hoping that other online contributors will come forward and help me shine a light on all the names missing from my list.

There are many women that should be applauded by the BES on International Women’s Day – but I’m going to focus on ten of them.

So who is in my top 10? The choice is tough: I could go for recent and current Presidents; I could mention remarkable staff members; and then there are all the past members who inspired so many young scientists to pursue a career in ecology. On this occasion, however, I’d like to celebrate a different bunch, namely the potentially less visible volunteers who currently sit on committees and Special Interest Groups; who spend days sorting out programmes and venues; who give their time without counting; who support other women without mentioning it.


Prof. Jane Hill

Jane Hill (@JaneHillYork) is the first woman I’d like to celebrate here. Her professorial title and her substantial research commitments have never stopped her giving time to support the work of the BES: Jane always finds time for potential mentees, helped the BES set an Equality and Diversity Working Group, and has supported the Publication Committee for as long as I can remember. Her achievements, whether academic or in advancing the careers of women in ecology, are as big as her discretion on the matter.



Prof. Juliet Vickery

Next is Juliet Vickery (@juliet_vickery), who just retired from chairing the Policy Committee. Juliet is part of the reason why policy activities have grown so much at the BES over the recent years, and why many of us can now apply to get a BES policy fellowship. Juliet’s enthusiasm is contagious, and her ability to build consensus remarkable. One of my hopes is to eventually join a committee chaired by Juliet again.




Prof. Zoe Davies and Dr. Emma Sayer

Have you ever met Zoe Davies and Emma Sayer (@panemma)? These two powerhouses are something of a kind. For years, Emma & Zoe have helped organise the scientific programmes of our annual meetings, ensuring everyone leaves feeling informed and entertained. Zoe also sat on the Policy Committee for many years, and Emma received an award in 2018 for her exceptional voluntary service to the Society and its community.


Dr. Natalie Cooper

If you are into macroecology, then you must have encountered Natalie Cooper (@nhcooper123) at some point. Natalie is one of the key engines behind the Macroecology group, having managed to make it at once fun, approachable and relevant to all kinds of ecologists. Natalie has also spent years on the Publications Committee, is an associate editor for Methods in Ecology and Evolution, and has been an ambassador for equality, diversity and inclusion for as long as I’ve known her.



Dr. Lydia Cole

Hats off to Lydia Cole (@lydcole), the early career researcher who runs the Conservation Specialist Interest Group. Despite the stress associated with building a career in academia, Lydia has — for years — made sure that the group remains active and dynamic, putting together events and dealing with all the associated logistical and administrative issues. Her commitment to the group is remarkable.





Prof. Zen Lewis

And then there is Zenobia Lewis (@Zen_of_Science), who, among other things, sat on the Equality and Diversity Working Group and currently sits on the committee of the Teaching and Learning Specialist Interest group. Zen, like most of the women listed in this piece, is an incredible champion for diversity in STEM, and has worked relentlessly to make learned societies like the BES a more inclusive place to network and exchange ideas.




Prof. Helen Roy

Another familiar face at the BES is Helen Roy (@UKLadybirds), who has been a member of the BES for the past 25 years. Helen has been, or still is, a grant committee member, a public engagement committee member, a Special Interest Group secretary and a BES Board of Trustees member; she is also an Associate Editor for People and Nature, one of the BES peer reviewed journals. Helen’s contribution to the Society is simply phenomenal.




Prof. Franciska De Vries

Franciska de Vries (@frantecol) is another woman in science who contributes a lot to the BES and should be celebrated here. Franciska is an associate editor for Journal of Ecology, and a member of the BES review college. In 2012, she founded the BES Special Interest group Plants, Soils, Ecosystems – a group she led for four years.




Prof. Yvonne Buckley

The last person I’d like to highlight here is Yvonne Buckley (@y_buckley), who was an associate editor for Journal of Applied Ecology for years before joining Journal of Ecology as an associate editor. Yvonne used to sit on the Board of Trustees before helping spearhead the development of an Irish Ecological Association, over which she now presides.





These ten women are, I believe, fantastic role models for the generation to come. On many occasions, I’ve witnessed these women in action, and always ended up being impressed by their ability to successfully juggle the various demands on their time.

This contribution is my way to say thank you!

So this contribution is my way to say thank you on behalf of all of us who have enjoyed the events you put together; who have benefitted from the opportunities you created; who have grown thanks to the time you put aside for us.