Hilary Lappin-Scott is Senior Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation and Strategic Development at Swansea University. Over a long-distinguished career, Hilary has held fellowships in the UK and Canada, taught Microbiology at Exeter University and served as Dean of the Postgraduate Faculty at the same institution. She has supervised more than fifty PhD students and is co-author of the 2016 Welsh Government report: Talented Women for a Successful Wales. She is excited to be part of REAP and foresees the programme playing a major role in boosting the Welsh economy. More recently Hilary was awarded an OBE in the 2018 New Year’s Honours list for services to Microbiology and the advancement of women in science, technology, engineering and maths.

Hilary Lappin-Scott was born in Middlesbrough and first discovered her love for science at a young age– largely influenced by watching Patrick Moore on the BBC’s seminal astronomy programme The Sky at Night.

Hilary continued to fuel her passion in the classroom – despite girls being actively discouraged from studying science-based subjects at that time. In fact, this rebellion against what is considered ‘right’ for girls – and a determination to create gender equality on a global level – has been a recurring theme throughout her career.

Hilary’s work is aimed at inspiring women to think differently about what they can achieve. She is the co-author of an influential government report which addresses the under-representation of women in science, technology, engineering and maths subjects. Her tireless work was recognised in 2016 when she received the WISE Hero Award.

We are making inroads into entrepreneurship in Wales but we also need to bolster our economy. REAP will make a real impact.

Hilary believes that through ‘BeTheSpark, REAP is already having an impact on addressing the gender equality gap in Wales and points to the achievements of several Wales-based businesswomen who owe their success to strong entrepreneurship. “You can see the gap narrowing in some institutions and organisations,” she says. “But there is a need to take this forward.”

Talking about REAP in a broader sense Hilary is optimistic that the programme can trigger economic growth across all parts of Wales. “We do not want everything to be centred in one particular area. Clearly activity in our major towns and cities is important and these can continue to be strong entrepreneurial regions,’” she says. “But there are entrepreneurial people in other areas such as rural communities up and down the country and they too can achieve success and create that boost in their communities. These are all things that through ‘BeTheSpark, people can work towards and that is an exciting prospect.”