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Durham University

Faculty of Science

International Women's Day 2018: Women in Science Lecture

This is an annual Faculty of Science keynote lecture that support the University's Women in Science Week leading up to International Women's Day. This year's speaker is Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser DBE FRS who will talk about some of her scientific achievements and experience in a talk entitled "The Joy of Being Wrong".


Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser DBE FRS


Tuesday 6 March 2018



Location (video recording)

E005, Department of Engineering

Meet the Speaker

Come along to E240 in the Department of Engineering between 1-2pm to meet Ottoline. Lunch will be provided.


The Joy of Being Wrong


As scientists, we like to think we are on an inexorable march to the Truth. We are following a clear path guided by the pure light of logic. But as Einstein famously said “If we knew what we were doing it would not be called research”. Research involves stepping into the unknown. It involves making up hypotheses about what might be going on, testing them and usually finding out they are wrong. This is uncomfortable. People do not like uncertainty and they don’t like being wrong, which is why the clear lit path is such an attractive myth. High quality research depends on us finding ways to embrace the unknown and enjoy being wrong. It is not only essential for the process of research, but it is an important tool for navigating a career in science.


Ottoline Leyser is Director of the Sainsbury Laboratory at the University of Cambridge. Her research is aimed at understanding how plants tune their development to adopt a form appropriate for the environment in which they are growing. She is particularly interested in the role of long-range hormonal signals in balancing growth across the shoot system and between the shoots and roots.

She has a long-standing interest in inclusivity in science, encompassing a commitment to public engagement and to promoting diversity in science and science careers. She currently chairs the Royal Society’s Science Policy Committee and serves on the Prime Minister’s Council for Science and Technology.

She has won the Royal Society’s Rosalind Franklin Award and the FEBS/EMBO Women in Science Award. She is a Fellow Royal Society, a Foreign Associate of the US National Academy of Sciences and a member of the Leopoldina. In 2017 she was made Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to plant science, science in society, and equality and diversity in science.