2021 Phillips Award: Dr Claire Davies

For her unwavering commitment to diversity and inclusion, and her pioneering work fostering and nurturing networks between LGBTQ+ physicists in academia and industry.

Dr Claire Davies 2021 IOP Phillips Award winner

Since being co-opted onto the Institute of Physics (IOP) South West Branch committee in 2017, Dr Claire Davies has worked tirelessly to ensure branch activities reach new audiences and under-represented groups, particularly the LGBTQ+ community.

She has been pivotal in forging links between the IOP and educational, industry and community groups across the greater Exeter area through PRISM Exeter. Her work has led to her being invited onto the steering group of Exeter Chamber of Commerce’s Initiative for Science and Technology (ExIST) and she is regularly invited to speak on matters related to improving diversity and inclusion in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM).

Since 2018, Davies has arranged for the IOP South West branch to be represented annually at Exeter Pride with a stall in their Family and Health Zone. There, she leads a team of volunteers using diffraction glasses to encourage discussion around the spectra of light, gender and sexuality, and uses Marvin and Milo demonstrations to educate and entertain stall visitors of all ages, all genders and sexualities, and from a range of backgrounds.

She also shared results of the 2018 Physical Sciences Climate Survey with stall visitors who worked in the local STEMM sector. The 2018 and 2019 stalls enjoyed upwards of 500 visitors and were well received, most notably by young adults and parents of young children who reported having their attitude towards physics changed by the stall and its presence at the event.

Building on the positive feedback the 2018 stall received, Davies founded PRISM Exeter in July 2018 alongside colleagues and PhD students from the University of Exeter’s physics and astronomy department, and employees from Network Rail, the Meteorological Office, Exeter Science Park and Tech Exeter.

Through PRISM Exeter, Davies aims to: forge and nurture intergenerational support between LGBTQ+ STEMM students and professionals in the greater Exeter area; raise awareness of LGBTQ+ contributions to STEMM; and share best practices regarding equity, diversity and inclusion across the STEMM sector.

Notable successes include PRISM Speakers events, which are regularly attended by STEMM professionals (academia/industry) and students (secondary/further/higher education); an annual Queer STEMM Champions competition, which Davies designed in consultation with Exeter College and the University of Exeter; and a monthly newsletter providing updates on diversity and inclusion in STEMM.