Rachel Oliver, Professor of Materials Science, The University of Cambridge
Rachel is Professor of Materials Science at the University of Cambridge. She works on the materials which are used in energy-efficient LED light bulbs. An “LED” is a light-emitting diode – a tiny semiconductor chip which converts electrical power directly into light. Rachel’s goal is to make these devices simultaneously more efficient and cheaper so that they will be used more widely and hence help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
She is a founder of award-winning Cambridge University spinout company Poro Technologies Ltd, which is developing novel porous nitride materials (patented by Rachel and her team) to improve the extraction of light from LEDs. The aim is to greatly reduce the amount of light lost or wasted within the LED, which is an important factor in optimising the overall device efficiency.
Alongside her academic research and teaching and her entrepreneurial role, Rachel is an enthusiastic advocate for women and other under-represented minorities in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM). She leads The Inclusion Group for Equity in Research in STEMM (TIGERS), a network of scientists which campaigns to make STEMM more equitable (https://www.tigerinstemm.org/). With the support of TIGERS, she spearheaded a successful campaign for an inquiry by the House of Commons Select Committee on Science and Technology into the effect of funding policy on equality, diversity, inclusion and accessibility. The inquiry is expected to launch within the next 9 months. Rachel also runs the Robinson College Women In STEMM Festival, an event which provides female sixth formers with opportunities to engage with scientific researchers at all career stages.