Diversity in Science: creating an inclusive environment

This post was originally published on the Royal Society of Biology’s blog, on 15 November 2016.

The Royal Society’s Annual Diversity Conference, ‘Diversity Matters – the road to inclusivity’ provided an uplifting environment to learn about initiatives in a range of workplaces. Meeting representatives from across the science sector, including from education and government, who are dedicated to improving diversity, was a hugely motivational and informative experience.

royalsocietydiversityconference-4255
Photo: Royal Society

Andrew Parker, director general of MI5, gave an enlightening keynote explaining how diversity is essential to UK security as, ‘the richest mix of people equals the best talent.’ MI5 received the top position in Stonewall’s top 100 employers’ list earlier this year, for good practice in its support for LGBT employees. Continue reading

Coming out in STEM

This post was originally published on the Royal Society of Biology blog, on 16 February 2016.

“I don’t mind people who are gay; I just don’t want that flaunted in my face”. That’s what Fran Cowling, one of the panel members at The Royal Society’s event, Out in STEM was once told.

While unfortunately similar remarks can still be heard regarding LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer) people, most of the panel members said they had experienced a lot of support from friends and colleagues when they had decided to come out. They said they felt a sense of liberation as they no longer had to lead two lives and hide who they truly were. “Although I have encountered some isolated examples of unpleasantness, I can’t say that my career has suffered any adverse consequences”, writes Peter Coles, one of the speakers.

So when choosing to be out in the workplace or when studying – what influences this choice?

WATCH: Sally Le Page, evolutionary biology PhD student at The University of Oxford and maker of  Shed Science videos, on her sexuality and why she thinks queer visibility is important in STEM:

Continue reading

3 big data challenges in healthcare

Image by Luc Legay
Image by Luc Legay

This post was originally published on the Biochemical Society blog on 22 October 2015.

People tend to use the word ‘astronomical’ to illustrate an enormous size of numbers. Dr Bissan Al-Lazikani, computational biologist and data scientist from the Institute of Cancer Research, joked at the recent Policy Lunchbox event on big data that we should call huge numbers ‘genomic’, rather than ‘astronomical’ – it’s just more accurate that way. Continue reading

14 science policy blogs everybody should follow

Photo: Andres Zenteno. science policy blogs uk
Photo: Andres Zenteno

Information overload. As if there weren’t enough problems.

With science facing so many challenges right now (EU membership referendum and comprehensive spending review, among others), it is important for all of us stay tuned (scary articles regarding the science funding are published almost daily, you wouldn’t want to miss out, otherwise, where will you get your horror stories?).

While tabloids will get the main message across, you might want to look at these 14 blogs that will give you an idea on what happens behind the scene in science policy. Continue reading

I don’t know what to believe

Via This is Colossal
Via This is Colossal

The post was originally published on the Royal Society of Biology blog on 21 September 2015.

There is a huge appetite for science stories in the news, however, we cannot help but wonder whether everything we read is accurate or rather just a marketing ploy (some of the stories do sound too good to be true). We have all seen headlines that don’t always reflect the content due to the lack of evidence to support it, or worse yet – no evidence at all.

At our recent Policy Lunchbox Dr Chris Peters, scientific liaison at Sense About Science, shared an overview of their work, and in particular, his experience running Plant Science and Energy Panels – public spaces where anyone who has a question on these topics (eg. GM, bees and pesticides, biofuels, fracking) can submit a question to be answered by a specialist researcher. Continue reading

Research, industry and policy join forces to tackle antimicrobial resistance

Red dress Dundee
Photo: University of Dundee

The post was originally published on the Royal Society of Biology blog on 16 July 2015.

If we fail to act on AMR then an additional 10 million lives would be lost each year to drug-resistant strains of malaria, HIV, TB, and certain bacterial infections by 2050, at a cost to the world economy of 100 trillion USD (O’Neill, 2015).

To enable collaboration in tackling this issue the Learned Society Partnership on Antimicrobial Resistance (LeSPAR) recently organised a series of three networking workshops on antimicrobial resistance (AMR), in London, Dundee and Nottingham, which brought together a wide range of researchers at all career stages, industry representatives and policymakers. Continue reading

Parliamentary Links Day: placing science and engineering at the top of the political agenda

Jo Johnson MP minister for universities and science
Me with Jo Johnson MP

The post was originally published on the Biochemical Society blog on 1 July 2015.

Even though I started working as a Science Policy Assistant at the Biochemical Society and the Society of Biology less than a month ago, a lot has happened, and all of it very exciting. One might wonder how this joint position works (in the beginning so did I!)

The Biochemical Society channels its policy work through the (soon to be Royal) Society of Biology, therefore it is useful for the both organisations to have one person who coordinate the joint policy work.

One of the most memorable moments so far has been the Parliamentary Links Day. Every year the Society of Biology organises this event to strengthen the communication between Parliament and the science and engineering community. To add extra sparkle to this year’s event it happened to also be Women in Engineering Day! Continue reading