Former Middlesex University BA Sonic Arts student Nela Brown picked up a coveted WISE Award in November, in recognition of her work inspiring girls and young women to engage with the traditionally male-dominated field of computer science.
Receiving her award from Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal at a glittering ceremony in London, Nela won the prestigious accolade of 'highly commended' in the WISE Leader Award category.
Commenting on her award, Nela said: "It felt amazing to be the only PhD student shortlisted for the WISE Leader category alongside Professor Valerie Gibson from University of Cambridge and Tricia Goodchild from University of Northampton so to win an award is just fantastic."
Each year, WISE Awards are presented to women from a diverse range of industry backgrounds who show the drive, commitment and passion to reach the very top of the science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) sectors.
With almost 30 years' experience inspiring girls to pursue STEM subjects, WISE has undertaken a mission to raise the number of female employees in the STEM sector from 13 per cent to 30 per cent by 2020.
"There isn't a single solution to get more girls studying STEM subjects," Nela said. "There needs to be a combined approach to challenge the perceptions of these currently male dominated fields and show young woman STEM subjects are fun, easy and extremely relevant to all aspects of their lives.
"Part of this involves highlighting the many successful women working in the STEM fields today, so women have role models to relate to, as well as showing the next generation of women the great plethora of exciting careers underpinned by STEM subjects."
After graduating from Middlesex in 2007, Nela freelanced as a sound artist before becoming a PhD researcher in the School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science at Queen Mary University London (QMUL).
She was commended for setting up and leading G.Hack (a hacking club for female researchers at QMUL), for leading the WISE@QMUL society and also for establishing close ties with the Flossie network for women interested in using open source technology as coders, artists and social innovators.
The Middlesex alumna was instrumental in forging collaboration between Flossie and QMUL, resulting in the Flossie 2012 and Flossie 2013 conferences, which were sponsored by Google, QMUL, G.Hack, BCSWomen and BCS OSSG, being held at the university.
In September 2012, Nela also became the first student member of the British Computer Society (BCS) specialist group BCSWomen committee, setting up a Mentoring Working Group comprising of women at various stages in their STEM careers who have years of experience in mentoring women.
"G.Hack greatly enhanced the confidence and public profile of female students and her creative energy made a huge contribution to Flossie," said Paula Graham, Director of Fossbox.
"Overall, she is an influential and indefatigable advocate for women."
You can find out more about Nela by visiting her blog here: http://nelabrown.blogspot.co.uk/
If you would like to learn more about WISE you can find their website here: http://www.wisecampaign.org.uk/