Our Athena Swan bronze application was submitted to Advance HE last week, so the committee attention naturally turned to tackling the detailed Action Plan which is core to the application. The various subgroups (culture survey, mentoring, and data) will be now meeting independently to discuss how to map progress against, and achieve the Action Plan.
Iain informed the committee that he attended a workshop organised by the Racial and Ethnic Equality and Diversity (REED) Ecological Network of the British Ecological Society on decolonising the curriculum at their annual meeting in December 2021. Progress on this will follow also from the recent consultation the University is running on this, and more generally on our teaching and learning strategy.
Jenny and Iain also met the EDI representative of the Department of Geography, Dr Dilkushi de Alwis Pitts. Following the merger of the Schools of Life Sciences and Geography, a new School of Life and Environmental Sciences has been created. To streamline work between our newly formed Departments of Life Sciences and Geography, Dilkushi will shortly be joining our committee, and a call will be open for other members of the Dept of Geography to join us.
We plan to reflect this on our blog soon, as well as invite any colleague or student from Geography
At our December meeting, the first item for discussion was around decolonising the curriculum. Several members of the committee had been at the annual meeting of the British Ecological Society, were they attended a workshop on that topic. This is a journey in progress at the moment, and we are awaiting further guidance from the University around appointing a champion, a working group and having a specific remit. We moved onto workloads, noting that we are awaiting an update, following a dispute raised by the union to which the University has yet to respond.
Since our last meeting, the committee circulated our yearly culture survey to gauge perceptions on the School of Life Sciences working environment and culture. In total we received 52 responses from 38 academics, 8 technical and professional staff and 6 PDRA/PGR. We will be presenting the culture survey results to the School meeting in February 2022, and we will also be inviting Xiaotong Zhu or Rhianne-Ebony Sterling-Morris of the Lincoln Equality and Attainment Project (LEAP) to attend and give a short presentation on intercultural awareness and micro-aggression.
Finally, following our merger with the School of Geography – we are now the School of Life and Environmental Sciences with a Department of Life Sciences and a Department of Geography – we discussed how to merge the respective Equality, Diversity and Inclusion committees. Our Chair, Jenny Dunn, will write to the our colleagues in Geography, Theresa Mercer and Harriet Moore, to discuss this in the new year.
After a search for a new member of our committee, today we welcomed Dr Manabu Sakamoto. We then discussed at length how to define an early career researcher. We are mindful of not discriminating against age (and therefore time since PhD) or job role (teaching and scholarship role versus teaching and research role), and we have now a working definition that we will share with the Research Committee at the School level. The reason for defining an early career researcher, is that we want to rejuvenate the early career research committee in the new year.
The next item on the agenda were the student and staff culture surveys: while we are developing a new student culture survey, we are in the process of transferring our staff culture survey from our previous platform, Qualtrics, to our new platform, JISC. As every year, the staff survey should be launched by the end of November.
Finally, we also had an update on Decolonising the Curriculum. While we do not have a Champion for this role yet, we had a group discussion on the various representation, from within and outside the EDI committee, that we would like to see on this new working group.
My current role is as the technician with responsibility for those practical classes that fall under ecology and zoology, although my background is in molecular biology so I’m often involved in molecular biology and microbiology sessions as well.
I completed my PhD looking at how to improve crop water use efficiency via modulation of the number of stomatal pores in the epidermis of barley, at the department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at Sheffield University. This was followed by a brief stint as a secondary school teacher before I joined the University of Lincoln in my current role in 2018.
I decided to become a technician as I really enjoy the hands-on aspects of science and I was also seeking a career with a more favourable work-life balance after being a teacher.
My current role is great as it’s very varied in terms of the different practical classes we offer here. Also, the Ecology and Conservation practical classes provide me with many opportunities to work outdoors which I really enjoy, even if the weather is often uncooperative!
At our meeting this month we welcomed a new member, Dr Jonathan Hughes, representing the technical team on the committee. One of the first items for discussion was the Athena Swan application. Following a delay in our original submission, the application is now with the Eleanor Glanville Centre team for comments and feedback. We expect to revise our application and submit it by the end of November 2021.
The next item on our agenda was “Decolonising the curriculum”. Work on this topic has started at the university level but we have been asked to consider the implications for our teaching strategy, relevant policies as well as equality, diversity and inclusion at the School level. Iain Stott, Carol Rea and Graziella Iossa will represent the EDI committee on a school-wide working group including programme leaders and members of the Learning, Teaching and Assessment Committee. The first actions of the working group will include a statement of intent, identifying a champion to take this work forward, and preparing a presentation for the School meeting in October.
There were a few changes in committee membership. Alex Aitken and Paul Eady stepped down and the committee would like to thank them both for their hard work, especially for running the culture survey and establishing a coaching scheme. Meanwhile Ambrose Tinarwo and Mat Goddard joined the mentoring subgroup, and Oliver Burman joined the culture survey subgroup.
The committee met today and the main point of discussion on the agenda was the topic of decolonising the curriculum. As equality, diversity and inclusion committee we have been asked by our Head of School to consider this topic alongside the wider work that is happening at the College and university-wide level. From September 2021, the university-wide Decolonisation of the Curriculum Oversight Group will be reorganised into a Working Group consisting of champions appointed by each school, which will be responsible for advancing work on decolonisation of the curriculum, and a Steering Committee, which will provide strategic leadership to the project.
While this work is developing, and recognising the need to take action now in time for the beginning of next academic term, we are going to start by raising awareness and sharing best-practice examples of decolonisation of the curriculum at our next school meeting in September. As always, we will share our progress on this blog in future posts.
Our meeting this month focused on the delay to our application for the Athena Swan submission. After discussions within our committee, last month we decided that we would rather delay our submission until later in the year. This was a set back on our ambition and target date, however all the work put in by the committee to complete the application will still be valid for our revised application for the new submission date.
Meanwhile, the committee also considered an important report that was kindly shared with us by the Plant and Animal Sciences Department of the University of Sheffield. The report considers the topic of decolonising the curriculum. There is other ongoing work across the University of Lincoln taking into account this important topic, and as a committee, we will highlight best practice to share with the rest of the School of Life Sciences before the teaching resumes in the autumn term.
I’m a PhD student in the School of Life Sciences, studying Palaeontology, more specifically the evolution of complexity. I started my palaeo career at the University of Bristol, completing an integrated masters in Palaeobiology. I have been involved in a number of projects tackling a wide range of paleontological questions, from the position of ctenophores in the tree of life, to 3D reconstructions of modern life’s closes cousins, Ediacarans. My favourite project so far has been a study of fossilised poo from the Triassic, which we used to create a food web for a 205-million-year-old ecosystem!
One of my favourite parts of Palaeontology is how varied it is. As a discipline, it utilises any methods it can get its hands, from geology to chemistry, and so each new question can lead you down so many different paths when trying to answer it! Palaeontology always fascinated me as a child, mainly because it seemed as close as one could get to studying real-life dragons. It combines both science and a bit of imagination to picture and understand all these distant bygone lands, that all satisfyingly operate under unifying biological principles.
I have loved furthering my studies at Lincoln, especially with the support of my wonderful supervisors, being so welcoming and helpful!
There is a great community of post-grad students, always up for a weekly coffee break and chat, which has been lovely during the pandemic…
I never have a good answer to “What is your favourite dinosaur?”, a response which I feel I should have locked and loaded, ready to answer any 7-year-old that asks. I prefer a good mammoth…..
I have recently joined the School of Life Sciences as a Lecturer of Biomedical Biochemistry. Following my PhD at CRUK-London Research Institute, I pursued a Postdoctoral Career Development Fellowship at the MRC-National Institute for Medical Research in London. After a short postdoctoral position at EPFL, Switzerland, and then a PDRA position at LMU Munich, Germany, I returned to the UK as a Royal Society Newton International Fellow, at the University of Kent. I then continued my research as a PDRA in the group of Dr. Toseland, before relocating with his group to the University of Sheffield.
It is great to have joined the welcoming and friendly environment of the School of Life Sciences and I am looking forward to exciting and stimulating teaching and research.
My research interest focuses on myosins, motor proteins that move along the actin cytoskeleton. I am interested in understanding the mechanisms through which these proteins are regulated in mammalian cells and how disruption of this regulation can lead disease. To achieve this, I follow an interdisciplinary approach that combines cell biology and protein biochemistry with advanced fluorescence microscopy and single molecule imaging.
With all the activity for the upcoming Athena Swan submission and other teaching related duties, I missed posting about our committee meeting last 1st April 2021. For the last and yesterday’s meeting, on 6th May, the sole focus of our discussions has the been the submission. We discussed the draft, which we jointly wrote, and the Action Plan, written by our chair, Jenny Dunn.
We do have other news to report though. Between the last two meetings, the coaching subgroup, led by our senior technician, Alex Aitken and our school research lead, Mat Goddard, launched the brand new School of Life Sciences Coaching Scheme. The scheme is open to all from postgraduate students to academics and technicians and we are actively recruiting mentees as well as mentors. If you’d like to know more or ask any questions, please email the team at CoachingSLS@lincoln.ac.uk.
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