The Association for Science Education Alexander Award

The Alexander Award, established in 2001 by Mary Alexander Harris, honours three members of the Alexander family, Sir Norman, his first wife Elizabeth and second wife Constance, who made major contributions to science education worldwide from 1936 to 1997.

The prize (of £500) is awarded annually to a woman or group of women who has made a significant contribution to the scientific, technological, engineering or mathematical (STEM) education of girls or women, in situations of scarce resources.

To give some context, Mary Alexander Harris explains: "Sir Norman Alexander, a physicist, headed ionosphere research at University College Ibadan, Nigeria during the International Geophysical Year of 1958 before becoming first Vice Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University, then Vice Chancellor of The University of the South Pacific. He also played a major part in the foundation of the universities of the West Indies, Ghana, Zambia, Mauritius, Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland. From 1942-1945 he had been interned in Singapore while his wife Elizabeth Alexander, a geologist and physicist working in Naval Intelligence, was evacuated to New Zealand, where she established operational research in radar in the South Pacific. In 1947, after she rejoined her husband in Singapore, she became Temporary Registrar for the new University of Malaya, before being commissioned by the government to survey the Island for sources of granite and water for the Island’s post-war reconstruction.

"Following her husband to Nigeria, she continued with her own research and teaching on tropical soils and established the Department of Geology at Ibadan before her death there in 1958. Her husband subsequently married Professor of Education Constance Geary who, as chief woman education officer in Northern Nigeria, had made significant advances in the education of Muslim girls. At the time of the 1947 Partition of India, Professor Geary had been Principal of Lahore Women’s College.

"On Sir Norman’s death in 1997, a number of his past colleagues and students approached me, Mary Alexander Harris, one of his daughters who had herself been a chemistry student at Ibadan, asking me to establish a memorial in his honour. Since he would not have been able to achieve so much without the support of his wives, and since much of my own work in mathematics education was concerned with some of the problems of access to STEM subjects for girls and women, I decided that an Award for women teaching STEM subjects to girls or women in situations of scarce resources, would serve the memory and spirit of the Alexanders. The cash award, coming entirely from personal donations, goes directly to the woman or women winners, while giving them public recognition of their work."

If you know of a woman teacher of science, technology or mathematics, or a group of women, who have made a significant contribution to encouraging the scientific, technological or mathematics education of girls or women in situations of scarce resources and who should be considered for the Alexander Prize, please do make a nomination.

A nomination for the Alexander Prize should include name and contact details for the nominee and an explanation of the reasons for the nomination, detailing the achievements of the nominee/s over a period of time, in no more than 400 words.

Please submit nominations via email to Suzanne Dickinson at suzannedickinson@ase.org.uk