The WiM initiative started in 2018 by Dr. Elena Gómez-Díaz and Dr. Joanne Power. The community was established to help address gender inequalities by empowering, connecting and supporting women and other discriminated genders working in the field of malaria research.

How is WiM developing?

In the last 2 years WiM has grown in membership, begun working with stakeholders in academia (e.g. Pan African Mosquito Control Association), leaders in science communication and advocacy organisations (e.g. Keystone and Malaria Eradication Scientific Alliance, Malaria No More), as well as running series of professional skills, career development training courses, and a very successful inaugural conference [1].

This increase in scope of activities, global recognition, and financial undertakings has put WiM in a position to evolve from a web presence and mailing list into an organisation, which is currently ‘hosted’ by the University of Edinburgh, UK. As such, WiM is galvanising its members to lead the development of an overhauled database and website, broaden the scope of its social media, raise funds, and organise a bi-annual conference. Notably, the conference will always be online because this is the best way to maximise inclusivity and the diversity of topics, career stages, and geographical representation of speakers and delegates. Further, removing the need for travel mitigates against the challenges of attending conferences for those with caring responsibilities (which are most often women). This also keeps running costs low, allowing WiM to support participation of delegates from LMICs and invest in other activities for its members.

With the occasion of the first WiM Malaria Conference, Sarah Reece joined the WiM committee and became a co-coordinator together with Elena. A steering committee was formed around this time, with the additions of Katherine Collins and Joanne Power. Recently the WiM community changed its structure with the addition of two new sub-teams, communications, led by Thorey K. Jonsdottir and Sonja Frölich, and conferences, led by Silvie Huijben and Damaris Matoke.

[1] Women in Malaria 2021: A Conference Premier (2021). Trends in Parasitology, doi:10.1016/

Meet the WiM Committee

Dr. Elena Gómez-Díaz

WiM Coordinator

Tenured Scientist at the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)

Elena leads the Malaria Epigenomics Laboratory of the Institute of Parasitology and Biomedicine López-Neyra, in Granada (Spain) ( The Gómez-Díaz Lab is interested in understanding the epigenetics of adaptation in parasites. That is, how epigenetic processes regulate gene expression in response to changing environments, and how those processes impact phenotypic variation and adaptation in parasites. The lab primarily works with malaria parasites and their mosquito vectors because they are a hallmark example of rapid adaptation. In parallel to her scientific activities Elena is involved in several gender equality initiatives. Actually, she is part of the Women in Science Unit of the Ministry of Science and Innovation of Spain. Elena is mum of Adrián, enjoys nature and travel, and has absolute passion for Africa.

Dr. B. Joanne Power

WiM Coordinator/Communications

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Wellcome Centre for Integrative Parasitology (WCIP), University of Glasgow, UK

Joanne is a postdoctoral researcher at the Wellcome Centre for Integrative Parasitology (WCIP) in Glasgow, Scotland, in the laboratory of Dr. Katarzyna Modrzynska. Joanne has worked in malaria transmission biology since the beginning of her PhD (also at the WCIP), where she studied the epigenetic regulatory mechanisms of Plasmodium gametocytogenesis in the lab of Prof. Andy Waters. This interest in malaria epigenetics and an emerging track-record as a science communicator led to a collaboration with Dr. Elena Gómez-Díaz and the beginning of the ‘Women in Malaria’ Initiative. Joanne’s current research focuses on the regulation of gene expression in early Plasmodium transmission stages within the mosquito midgut. Outside of molecular parasitology, Joanne is a voracious reader of Russian and Eastern European literature, and resident cat- and dog-sitter for many of her neighbours and colleagues in Glasgow’s West End.

Professor Sarah Reece

WiM Coordinator

Chair of Evolutionary Parasitology at the University of Edinburgh, UK

Research in Sarah’s laboratory asks the question “What makes malaria parasites so successful?”. By uncovering the strategies that malaria parasites have evolved to cope with the challenges of their lifestyle and exploit the opportunities it brings, the team hope to provide insight into how infectious diseases can be better treated. Sarah is the mum of Sam and Beth, many pets, and lives in the Scottish hills where she is an enthusiastic gardener and amateur moth surveyor. In addition to her research, Sarah is also involved in several initiatives to support the career development of early career researchers in the field of parasitology. Lab website:

Assistant Professor Silvie Huijben

WiM Events Coordinator

Assistant Professor at Arizona State University, USA

The overall objective in Silvie Huijben’s lab is to investigate optimal strategies for containment of antimalarial resistance in malaria parasites and insecticide resistance in disease-transmitting mosquitoes while optimizing disease control. They approach this by a combination of working with field-derived samples, empirical data derived from evolutionary experiments in the lab and, in collaboration, with mathematical modeling. Outside of the lab, Silvie loves to go camping and go on hikes with her family in and around Arizona, USA. She also enjoys learning how to garden in the desert heat of Arizona and learning how to play the piano. Lab website:  

Dr. Damaris Matoke-Muhia

WiM Events Coordinator

Ag. Deputy Director Biotechnology Research Programme, KEMRI

Lead Women in Vector Control, PAMCA

Damaris is a molecular biology research scientist heading the Biotechnology Research Programme at the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI). Her research is mainly on malaria and leishmaniasis with a focus on genomics and vector biology.

Dr. Thorey Kolbrun Jonsdottir

WiM Communication/Media Coordinator

Postdoctoral Researcher at Umeå University / MIMS

Thorey is a postdoctoral researcher in Ellen Bushell’s lab at Umeå University, Sweden. Thorey is currently studying host cell modification and protein export during the asexual blood stage of Plasmodium berghei.

Dr. Sonja Frölich

WiM Communication/Media Coordinator

Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Adelaide

Dr Frölich, a postdoctoral researcher in Danny Wilson’s laboratory at the Research Centre for Infectious Diseases, at the University of Adelaide, Australia, is committed to advancing our understanding of Plasmodium falciparum merozoite’s invasion of red blood cells. She employs state-of-the-art technologies, including 3D super-resolution microscopy and utilises customised AI-driven computational image analysis to unravel the role of newly identified rhoptry-associated proteins in this process.

Sophia Hernandez

WiM Communication/Media

PhD student at Umeå University / MIMS

Sophia is a PhD student in the lab of Ellen Bushell at Umeå University, Sweden. She is working on developing conditional knockdown tools in Plasmodium berghei, and characterising exported proteins in the blood stage.

WiM is hosted by the The University of Edinburgh, UK. The University of Edinburgh is a charitable body, registered in Scotland, with registration number SC005336, VAT Registration Number GB 592 9507 00, and is acknowledged by the UK authorities as a “Recognised body” which has been granted degree awarding powers.

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