Meeting – 6 May 2021

Career coaching
The School and EDI committee launched a career coaching scheme

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

Meeting – 4 March 2021

As with our last meeting, this month the committee focused, for the large part, on going through our draft application for the upcoming Athena Swan school-level submission. With the internal submission deadline for application approaching, we revised the draft text and Action Plan. A lot of work has been going behind the scenes to obtain the data needed for the application. The data encompass students (undergraduates and postgraduates), academic, technical and professional staff as well as applicants for our degrees and candidates for new positions.

During the meeting, we discussed a new draft policy on committee representation and composition which we will pass on for discussion and approval to the School Management Committee. This is to ensure that committee representation is reviewed regularly, reflects any changes in staff, and ensures principles of equality, diversity and inclusion are embedded in every committee.

Spotlight – Chelsy Cliff

Chelsy Cliff
Chelsy Cliff at work in Joseph Banks Laboratories

I am a PhD student in the School of Life Sciences and funded by a University of Lincoln scholarship. Whilst studying my MBio in Bioveterinary Science at the University of Lincoln, the staff were supportive and encouraging and so I was keen to continue studying my PhD here. I met with my supervisor, Dr Claire Hills, who supported me throughout the application process which included a presentation of my previous research to date in front of a staff panel.

Receiving the scholarship has opened so many career opportunities by allowing me to study for my PhD without financial pressures. As part of my scholarship I demonstrate in undergraduate practical experiments that has allowed me to develop a new set of skills and will contribute to a Higher Education Academy application.

The staff members in the School of Life Sciences and PGR community have helped me to develop the skills needed to progress in the future and challenged me to be the best I can.

Meeting – 8 February 2021

Athena Swan Gender Charter logo
Advanced HE Athen Swan Gender Charter logo

Our meeting this month was spent, for the large part, going through our draft application for the upcoming Athena Swan school-level submission. We learnt that, in a proactive move, Advanced Higher Education has moved the application deadline to the 28th May 2021 in recognition of the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on the work of the Self-Assessment Team, in particular the closure of schools and the most recent lockdown of January 2021. In addition, the application will also feature a specific extension to the application word limit to consider the impact of Covid-19 on the application.

During the meeting, we identified a number of key challenges and actions which will inform our application.

Spotlight – Alice Buckner


We are going to run a series of Spotlights on committee members, staff and students to raise the profile of colleagues in the School and get to know each other now we are socially distanced and a lot of us are based at home. Here Alice Buckner, one of our research postgraduates and a PGR rep, introduces herself.

An image of Alice BucknerAfter studying BSc Bioveterinary Science at the University of Lincoln I knew I wanted to continue my academic journey with an MSc, and where better than at the very university I have grown to love and call home! I am currently working my way through MSc Bioveterinary Science by Research studying the parasite liver fluke (Fasciola hepatica) in cattle and sheep. This really is the ideal course for me with the perfect level of freedom in developing my own research project alongside the support provided by the PGR community.

The School of Life Sciences has really been key in my development throughout my time here, not just in terms of teaching, but in the wider perspective of support. I started off my time at the university in 2017 as an extremely shy individual, but through the careful nurturing and unending support of the staff I have become the more self-confident and outgoing person I am today. I have been able to do things I never believed I could do at the start of my degree – I’ve been elected one of the course reps for both my BSc and MSc degrees, I’ve worked alongside my peers and tutors to run the Bioveterinary Science Society, and I have engaged in extracurricular courses which have really helped me grow as a person and scientist.

The current pandemic has really shown the resilience and determination of the staff and students here and I think this Spotlight is a great way of introducing us to each other and ensuring the continuity of the community feeling of the School I have grown to love.

Despite never meeting the majority of the people on my course, I feel as if I am getting to know them with my time as a PGR rep enabling me to be a voice communicating their feedback to staff and student representatives. From previous experience, the staff really take into account student feedback and ensure their views are included in decision making. I can’t think of another place I’d rather be living or studying and know that my experiences here stand me in good stead for wherever my future may take me.

Meeting – 13 January 2021

In our first meeting of 2021 we discussed our forthcoming submission for the Athena Swan award. We are trying to access all the various data that we need, which will need to be sourced in some cases directly from staff, but mostly our Human Resources department will provide. Meanwhile, lots of equality and diversity activity is happening behind the scenes, both at the school and at the college level. At the college level, the university launched a call last summer 2020 for members to join the College Inclusion Committee. Now that the work of the college committee is under way, we, as equality and diversity committee at the school level, have a more direct and simpler route to escalate any actions that go beyond the school remit.

Key discussion topics centred around our forthcoming coaching scheme in the last phase before the official launch, the results from our latest staff culture survey, and the re-launch of the early career researchers committee. There’s lots more work that should come to fruition in the coming months.

Meeting – 8 December 2020

At our committee meeting in December we started to look at the action plan we had set in our previous Athena Swan application. We used a traffic system to highlight the level of progress against each action point we had identified. We discussed a series of initiatives to move forward those action points for which we had achieved little progress.

A lot of discussion was around the support in place for early career researchers (loosely defined as up to the level of first lectureship). Support in a variety of ways: teaching opportunities and the achievement of a Higher Education Academy qualification, highlighting fellowship applications and tailored funding opportunities, but also a welcoming environment. All of this had already been the focus of our Joseph Banks Laboratories Early Career Researchers (ECR) committee, unfortunately the committee has become inactive over the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore we talked about reviving the committee initially through our newly established Teams channel for ECRs and also through our ‘socials’ Teams channel at the school level.

Meeting – 5 November 2020

Recreating coffee breaks during the pandemic

One of the first items that our committee discussed in this month’s meeting, was how to keep the social interaction of a school during the pandemic. Specifically we considered those groups that are not interacting as before, students, early career researchers and staff. We’ve therefore set up two new Teams channels: one for early career researchers to revive the ECR committee which has not met during the pandemic, and one for staff/student socialising, a sort of ‘coffee break’ online space to mimic the ‘corridor chat’ that is not happening with the move online.

In other items, Iain Stott and Sheena Cotter were elected as vice-chairs of the EDI committee and we discussed preparing the application for our Bronze application next spring 2021.

Meeting – 7 October 2020

Today the committee met and we discussed a variety of points. One of those, was the Athena Swan application for a silver award of the School of Psychology and in particular which actions they have implemented at school level in that respect.

The committee then discussed our newly launched blog and how to add this to the main website presence of the School of Life Sciences so that it is easily accessible for all. We also worded an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion statement that is going to be added to the welcome statement of our Head of School.

Dr Iain Stott wins prestigious BES award

Dr Iain Stott, senior lecturer at the School of Life Sciences and member of the EDI committee, has been awarded the prestigious Equality and Diversity Champion award by the British Ecological Society. This annual award (established in 2016) “honours and celebrates those who have made significant, innovative and cumulatively outstanding contributions to enhancing the practice of equality and diversity in the ecological community“. Now in its fourth year, the award aims to highlight the work done by those working tirelessly to make the ecological community more welcoming for everyone. Iain is the single recipient of the award this year.

On receiving his award Iain said: “I wouldn’t say anything I’ve done is extraordinary, and in many ways I was surprised to win this award. On reflection however, I certainly could have done with many of these things as an early career researcher and I’ve never really felt like I know a senior LGBT+ academic role model to look up to.

We are very proud of the work that Iain has already done, and look forward to his insights and contributions to our committee.

Congratulations to Iain!