Bryony Williams

Dr Bryony Williams

Dr Bryony Williams is a Royal Society Research Fellow in Biosciences whose work focuses on the molecular evolution and comparative cell biology of eukaryotes, and particularly the adaptation of parasite cells to the intracellular environment.

After undertaking her PhD at The Natural History Museum and University College London, work from Bryony’s doctorate was published in Nature, the world's most highly cited interdisciplinary science journal. The achievement was hard won after initially being daunted by the challenge ahead, as she describes: “My PhD was funded by the Wellcome Trust and when I met the cohort of funded students in my first year I remember feeling overwhelmed by a lack of confidence. I was very proud, when, three years later the cohort was brought back together to present their results and I was awarded a prize for my presentation.”

Bryony advocates taking opportunities when offered, even if they seem daunting, but believes there needs to be a widening of perceptions in order for women’s equality to truly progress. She says: “Many fields of work become dominated by a homogenous group of people at the top levels, who tend to recruit more similar types as they fit with their image of what has been successful in the past. New talent needs be recognised regardless of whether it fits the mould and should not have to adapt to fit it.”

Drawing inspiration from both her personal and professional spheres, Bryony cites her mother as always being a strong role model. “She had a successful career as a graphic designer during the 60s and 70s, in spite of being educated at a time at which there was no emphasis on formal qualifications for women,” she explains. In science, a key figure has been Professor Judith Smith, a parasitologist whom Bryony describes as having “huge amounts of energy and enthusiasm.” She adds, “When I first met her, she was about to embark on a research visit to China accompanied by her toddler son. One great perk of a career in science is that there are many opportunities to carry out research in another country. I found it fantastic that she was sharing this experience with her young son and admired her ability to combine being a successful scientist and inspiring mother.”