Academic named among UK’s leading female engineers

A world-leading authority on offshore renewable energy, Professor Deborah Greaves OBE, has been named as one of the country’s leading female engineers.

Professor Greaves, Head of the School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics at the University of Plymouth, has been listed by the Women’s Engineering Society (WES) among its Top 50 Women in Engineering: Sustainability.

The awards celebrate women who have made a significant contribution within sustainability, and nominations were required to provide evidence of their successful support of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals or the Net Zero Carbon Programme.

Professor Greaves has been working in the sector for more than two decades and has pioneered the development of novel types of wave energy converter, analysis methods for offshore renewable energy farms, and extreme wave-structure interactions, while combining hydrodynamics experiments in the University’s COAST Laboratory with numerical modelling.

Since arriving in Plymouth in 2008, she has continued to cement her position as one of the UK’s foremost offshore renewable energy researchers, having secured more than £10million in research funding.

She has led a number of national and international research initiatives, and provided expert advice to organisations including the United Nations, European Union and the UK government.

She was selected by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council to head the Supergen ORE Hub, a £9milion programme pulling together leading figures in wave, tidal and offshore wind to share skills and expertise to address the many synergies and research challenges.

She was made an OBE in the 2018 Queen’s Birthday Honours List, in recognition of her significant contributions to research into offshore renewable energy and her work to inspire more women and girls to consider a career in engineering.

“I am very proud to receive this award. There has never been a more exciting time to join the profession and we are making great strides in breaking down barriers to ensure it is open to all genders, now and in the future. Becoming an engineer in the 21st century could lead to a career in a huge range of sectors, from marine and medical to construction and manufacturing. Creating sustainable solutions is key to them all, and we as educators have a vital role to play in inspiring the next generation of engineers to dream big and exceed their expectations.”
Professor Deborah Greaves OBE

Professor Greaves was nominated for the award by Professor Alistair Borthwick, from the School of Engineering at the University of Edinburgh. He said:

“Deborah Greaves is a most worthy recipient of an award as one of the WES Top 50 Women in Engineering (WE50) 2020: Sustainability. She is a world authority in sustainable offshore renewable energy, an outstanding leader, a role model for aspiring women engineers, and a great contributor to industry and society.”

The WE50 awards seek to recognise the wealth of female talent within engineering and related disciplines, and were announced on International Women in Engineering Day. It celebrates the achievements of women in engineering and related roles and highlights the opportunities available to engineers of the future – for 2020, the campaign is partnering with UNESCO UK.

Elizabeth Donnelly, Chief Executive Officer of the Women’s Engineering Society explained why WES had chosen the theme of sustainability for 2020. She said:

“The 2019 Climate Emergency Declarations followed unprecedented weather conditions across the planet. Engineers were instrumental in repairing the Toddbrook Dam after it collapsed in August last year, and it will be engineers who will provide many of the solutions needed to address the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. We felt that it was the right time to showcase the amazing women who are already working on these issues.”

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School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics

Our disciplines provide a vibrant inter-disciplinary and collaborative environment dedicated towards producing graduates with the necessary applied knowledge and skills to meet demands of employers today and tomorrow.

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The COAST Laboratory

The COAST (Coastal, Ocean And Sediment Transport) laboratory provides physical model testing with combined waves, currents and wind, offered at scales appropriate for device testing, array testing, environmental modelling and coastal engineering. 

This is a flexible facility with the capability to generate short and long-crested waves in combination with currents at any relative direction, sediment dynamics, tidal effects and wind. 

The facility is closely aligned with the COAST Engineering Research Group

Find out more about the COAST Laboratory

Athena SWAN

We're a long-term supporter of the Athena SWAN programme. This is a national scheme, focused on advancing equality for women in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine in higher education.

Find out more about our Athena work

The Supergen ORE Hub

The EPSRC-funded Hub aims to address technical, environmental and interdisciplinary challenges through collaboration, cementing the UK's position as a global leader in offshore renewable energy.

Find out more about the initiative