Nina Wedell

Nina Wedell

Nina Wedell is Professor of Evolutionary Biology in the Centre for Ecology and Conservation at the Penryn Campus, as well as the Director of Research for the College of Life and Environmental Sciences Cornwall. She is particularly well known for her investigations into selfish genetic elements. Nina was recently nominated President Elect of the International Society for Behavioral Ecology (ISBE)—a role that has helped her successfully lobby to bring the highly respected ISBE conference to the University of Exeter’s Streatham campus in 2016.

Nina’s professional achievements are many, but she says that she is most proud of being awarded a Royal Society University Research Fellowship—an achievement that not only facilitated important and productive experimental work, but also served as “an endorsement that [her] research was genuinely world class.” Unsurprisingly, Nina includes science among the many things that bring her joy; her son, however, heads up the list, followed by good food and wine, art, and her cats.

A vocal proponent of the Athena SWAN initiative, Nina strongly believes that all of society will benefit from an environment that is equally supportive of both men and women. She said: “This will foster openness and creativity and make for better research.” Nina believes that a truly enlightened society is one that strives for fairness and equality, and she reports feeling uplifted by displays of genuine kindness: “Some people are truly bighearted; I only wish more people were more generous and less selfish in their everyday life.”

Over the course of her career, Nina has encountered a number of amazing women who have served as role models. Stockholm University’s Professor Birgitta Sillén-Tullberg inspired Nina to pursue a PhD and strive for a life balancing both career and family. Dame Linda Partridge and Professor Naomi Pierce, on the other hand, highlighted the value of embracing molecular tools and designing elegant experiments. Nina’s hero, however, is Dame Miriam Rothschild, a Fellow of the Royal Society who published prolifically, raised six children, and campaigned for human rights.

These successful women obviously shared one of Nina’s fundamental philosophies: “Don’t give up, and be in it for the long haul.” Nina also has the following recommendation for emerging researchers: “Believe in yourself and ask for help when you need it—don’t suffer in silence…But also be helpful to others; we can all do with a helping hand and encouragement.”