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Sussex student to increase visibility of BAME role models in science

A PhD student in the School of Life Sciences aims to increase the visibility of role models in science for BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic) students by building a community that extends beyond the School.

In a project supported by the Sussex Researcher Development Programme, Kamillia Kasbi will build a network of BAME scientists in a variety of careers, including Sussex alumni, to highlight the range of career opportunities available from studying Life Sciences subjects.

By doing so, she aims to foster a community for BAME students in the School, and provide opportunities to share challenges and experiences, while providing support.

Kamillia, one of the two Life Sciences BAME Ambassadors, said: “Research demonstrates that structural inequalities lead to BAME PhD students lacking a sense of belonging at university. In particular, a lack of role models can result in BAME students not feeling part of their School, or in academia in general.

“By featuring BAME scientists in a range of roles, I will be building an extended scientific community for our students. I hope that by providing stories of career pathways and the opportunity to ask these scientists questions, our students will see that there are many opportunities for them after studying science, to help maintain their motivation and engagement with research.”

Kamillia plans to record interviews with the scientists, covering their careers, struggles in the sector and advice for current students. These interviews will then be shared online, as part of a series of online resources for students.

A Q&A will also take place, either online or in person, where BAME students can come together and put their questions to the scientists.

Kamillia will commission a BAME artist to collaborate on the project, by producing engaging artwork of each of the scientists, which will be used for promotional material.

Researcher Development Officer, Katy Stoddard, said: “Our panel thought Kamillia’s initiative would fill a much-needed gap in Life Sciences at Sussex with tangible, engaging outcomes, and that it has the potential to have a greater impact on the science sector beyond the University.”

The scientists involved in the project will be asked if they are happy to be contacted about future collaborations and Kamillia hopes to build from the project, with support from the School’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) group.

Co-lead of EDI for the School, Dr Katy Petherick, said: “This project is a welcome contribution to our work addressing inequities in the School. We recognise that the lack of diversity and representation in our staff has a profound effect on how students of colour see their place in science. We look forward to supporting Kamillia with highlighting the opportunities available to BAME scientists.”

Kamillia is looking to include people who are UK based and have studied a Life Sciences subject (Chemistry or Biology related) and are now working in any career (not just science-based). If you are interested in being featured as a BAME role model, email Lifesci-edi@sussex.ac.uk for more information.

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By: Jessica Gowers
Last updated: Monday, 8 June 2020

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