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Coffee Pod #80 Micro biologies to macro environmental trends with Professors Jill Banfield and Karen Day

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Two preeminent female professors discuss careers in science and leadership in #STEMM reflecting on what the world needs today. Thanks to #COVID there has never been a better time to be talking about the relevance of research, diversity in science, and the interconnectedness of public health microbial health and climate science. The qualities of resilience and integrity come through strongly and both Professors advocate passionately for ways to see more women leading organisations in #STEMM. 

Meet Professor Karen Day – the Advanced Life Sciences Award winner in 2015.

Professor Karen Day is an infectious disease epidemiologist dedicated to improving global public health.  She is a microbe hunter describing the diversity of malaria parasites globally to improve disease surveillance and control. She has extensive international experience leading field programmes in malaria endemic areas of East, West and Southern Africa, India, Southeast Asia, Papua New Guinea and South America. She is a founder of the scientific discipline of malaria genomic epidemiology.  She has a strong track record of mentoring junior scientists.  

Professor Day is also an experienced educator and academic administrator in medicine and science having held senior leadership posts in universities in the UK, US and Australia. Highlights include being recruited to University of Oxford in 1993 where she was soon promoted to Professor for her scholarship and leadership. She is an Emeritus Fellow of Hertford College, having been one of the first women science “dons” at that College.  

From 2004-13, Professor Day led the development of interdisciplinary global public health programs as Director of the Institute of Urban and Global Health at New York University. Most recently she has been the Dean of Science at University of Melbourne. Her profile as a manager is a change agent, building new enterprises and restructuring to improve organizational achievement. She now continues her malaria epidemiology research at the University of Melbourne.

Meet Professor Jill Banfield, the Advance Life Sciences 2020 Award Winner.

A mineralogist-turned-microbiologist, Professor Jill Banfield has made outstanding contributions to our knowledge of the structure of microbial communities in natural environments and the human body. 

Her pioneering work created the platform to explore the role of gut bacteria in health and disease in humans. 

Her contributions to geosciences are also significant, culminating with her recognition by the American Academy of Sciences, the Royal Society and Australian Academy of Science. 

In addition to being a brilliant and distinguished scientist, Jill is a wise and generous mentor. 

She has trained many of the up-and-coming stars of her field and has strongly supported their career advancement.

Born in Armidale, Jill Banfield was educated at the Australian National University where she completed her bachelor's and master's degree, before gaining a PhD in Earth and Planetary Sciences from Johns Hopkins University. 

Jill was a faculty member between 1990 – 2001 at University of Wisconsin - Madison and University of Tokyo.

Since 2001, she has been a researcher and professor at the University of California Berkeley with an appointment in the earth and environmental sciences at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. 

Jill leads the Microbial Research initiative within the Innovative Genomics Institute, is affiliated with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and has a position at the University of Melbourne, Australia.

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