MPLS Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Awards 2023
We are thrilled to announce our winners for the MPLS Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Awards. Every other year, alternating with the University-wide VC’s Diversity Awards, we recognise staff and students in MPLS who have gone above and beyond in their efforts to advance ED&I within our communities, celebrating individuals and teams that have accomplished amazing things to make our workplaces a better place for all of us. The awards are an important way to showcase the incredible work that MPLS colleagues and students undertake, which may otherwise go unnoticed. At the same time, the awards aim to foster and raise awareness of impactful and innovative activities in all areas of equality, diversity and inclusion (including disability, LGBTQ+, race/ethnicity, gender, mental health and wellbeing, and more!).
Category 1: Best Initiative
For a successful activity or initiative aimed at increasing equality, diversity and inclusion in a department, group, or subject area.
Computer Science Outreach team (Suzanna Marsh, Sarah Baldwin, Huw Edmunds, Jenny Watson; Huw and Jenny pictured)
The Royal Institution Masterclasses in Computer Science are an ongoing outreach programme that engages year 9 students from state-funded schools across five counties, and then asks the same students to participate in the programme again in years 10 and 11. Schools nominate students to attend sessions across June and July, where they meet speakers from industry, academia and education, learning about computer science topics. When selecting participants, ACORN and POLAR data is used to prioritise students from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds, and the programme aims for 50% of the cohort of participants to self-identify as female because women are particularly underrepresented within computer science. Schools who have not previously engaged in the programme are also prioritised.
Positive feedback has been received from participants including 'I have gained a lot of experience and knowledge and I love computer science even more' and 'I now have more of a passion for computing'. The programme's continuation and this feedback demonstrates its success.
PERIODically Podcast (Charlie Simms, Manami Imada, Sofia Olendraru, Felicity Smith, Josie Sams, Charlotte Oliver, Amygrace Berger, Elba Feo)
PERIODically is a podcast created by both undergraduate and postgraduate Oxford chemists to discuss experiences of how having a period has affected their time studying chemistry. The physicality and intense nature of a chemistry degree can sometimes be put under extra pressure by symptoms of periods such as cramps, mental health and medical issues surrounding periods. This podcast sheds light on some of the problems periods pose, attempts to tackle stereotypes, and creates a conversation on how we can improve studying for people with periods. Financial support was received from the Royal Society of Chemistry and ongoing conversations within the department to publicise and continue the conversation.
Listen to the podcast on:
Category 2: Best Team Effort
To recognise effective collaboration between team members howsoever comprised (teams may be within a department or across departments) working together on an equality, diversity and inclusion related activity or initiative.
Angus Wilkinson and Leanne Jones
Leanne and Angus are being recognised for their ED&I work within department of Materials and Division, particularly highlighting their work on mental health and wellbeing which included three sessions as part of the MPLS Mental Health Awareness Week – a session on challenges ECRs can face, a talk from a Materials academic on his experiences with Autism, and a panel discussion on anxiety in academia. Alongside these sessions, they organised a number of sessions specifically for the Materials department, including a collaborative discussion to develop a new mental health and wellbeing action plan for the department.
Part of the nomination reads: “Angus and Leanne’s commitment to actively making real change within their department is clear – their ideas have tangible and realistic outcomes and, particularly their mental health action plan, will provide long-term benefits and culture change. Their different roles within the department have, I believe, really helped to make this a successful partnership, allowing them to share their knowledge and understanding from academic staff and graduate student/postdoc research perspectives.”
Maria Christodoulou, Ruth McCabe and Mariagrazia Zottoli
While the Department of Statistics has been focused its Athena Swan award application this academic year, Maria, Ruth and Mariagrazia have formed an unofficial task group on their own initiative to continue wider ED&I work. Activity includes the development of newsletters for selected celebration days (Anti-Bullying Week and LGBT+ History Month), production of welfare slides to summarise the support available in the department around mental health and harassment, and arranged QR codes to anonymous feedback forms for staff and students to be put up in bathrooms and common areas. In addition, they have proposed several projects which are currently underway but not yet complete: the provision of free menstrual products, more inclusive toilet signs for our gender neutral toilets, and events for October's Black History Month.
Part of the nomination reads: “They have been effective at driving our non-Athena Swan work this year, without prompting and to the immense gratitude of the EDIC chairs. It is a testament to their strong commitment to EDI, and they have worked exceptionally well as a team to get all these initiatives through.”
Category 3: Outstanding ED&I Champion – Staff
An award made to an academic, researcher or professional services member of staff who has shown outstanding dedication, sustained commitment, and effective leadership or impact in advancing equality, diversity and inclusion.
Winner - Professional Service Staff
Wendy is the administrative director of the Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Autonomous Intelligent Machines & Systems (AIMS). She has been nominated by a postdoc student for her support to students coming in to the programme – particularly from a first-generation perspective.
Part of the nomination reads: “Over the past five years, Wendy has had a significant impact on my academic career. She has impacted my time at Oxford—which includes a master’s degree and a DPhil—more than anyone else. Her dedication, compassion, kindness, leadership, and remarkable effectiveness make AIMS possible and have helped numerous students in the program overcome personal and professional challenges. Over the course of my academic career, which spans over 10 years at various institutions, I have not met anyone like Wendy. Wendy lifts up everyone around her, exhausts every option when AIMS students need help, lends an ear to those who are struggling, and is just a kind-hearted, good person.”
Commended - Professional Service Staff
Ginger is being recognised for her exceptional commitment to advancing ED&I at Oxford and her continued journey of learning, which she uses to influence change within the Maths Institute and the division. Just a few of her contributions and work are listed below.
As an active member of Maths EDIC, she supports a number of priorities including but not limited to, the departmental Race Equality action plan, the departmental wellbeing strategy, and free period products initiative. Ginger runs a number of departmental mental health initiatives including organising the training and ongoing support for departmental Mental Health First Aiders, a programme of Mental Health Awareness courses and the creation of a wellbeing room in the Andrew Wiles Building. Outside of her mental health and other ED&I work, Ginger also implements the departmental EDI Calendar and delivers inclusive and engaging events, including: International Women’s Day, Pride, Black History Month and Anti-Bullying Week.
Part of the nomination reads: “Ginger demonstrates exceptional commitment to advancing EDI at Oxford. She has a detailed knowledge of the subject areas and issues and is committed to a journey of continued learning – Ginger’s is skilled at sharing best practice with the EDI network / peers while also engaging the wider community with great energy.”
Winner - Academic/Researcher
“Since joining the Department of Chemistry in 2020, Laura has been continuously active in improving the community for fellow PDRAs and female researchers. She has consistently advanced initiatives, including the establishment of an annual PDRA symposium in chemistry, where she ensured a high level of gender balance in presenters. Beyond her event-based activities, Laura has had a sustained input on departmental decisions, being an active contributor on multiple department committees, from ED&I to academic staff meetings. Last year, she was also trained as a mental health first aider and has routinely advocated for awareness and support of students and staff with mental health issues.
Laura was elected as the president of Oxford Women in Chemistry (OxWiChem) in 2021 and has grown the committee to incorporate representatives from a range of backgrounds. She has led the organization of many events which strengthen the community for women in chemistry, such as career seminars from invited female academics and coffee mornings with the research facilitation team to promote fellowship applications by female researchers.
Laura’s commitment from the moment she arrived in Oxford has been sustained, effective and encouraging for others. I hope that I have conveyed the extent to which she clearly cares about ED&I matters and the impact she has had already. I strongly believe that Laura’s efforts and passion make her wholly deserving of recognition through this award.”
Commended - Academic/Researcher
James is being recognised for his wonderful allyship and inclusive approach – with part of the nomination reading:
“I have known James both as a faculty member, and as head of department. James has been exceptionally inclusive and welcoming from the very first interaction, both as HoD, and as a group member, and has generously given of his busy time to provide with critical helpful information in both of his roles. He essentially provided me with informal mentorship, and being an extremely dependable ally, despite his busy schedule as a HoD.”
Category 4: Outstanding ED&I Champion – Student
An award made to a postgraduate or undergraduate student who has shown outstanding dedication, sustained commitment, and effective leadership or impact in advancing equality, diversity and inclusion.
During her time at the Department of Engineering Science, Misha has dedicated her free time to help build supportive communities across her department and the MPLS Division. Examples include becoming Vice President of the Women in Engineering Network in the first year of her PhD, being a co-convenor of BIPOC STEM Network, advocating for formal recognition of those who dedicate time and effort to ED&I initiative and raising these topics in a podcast with Oxford University Vice Chancellor. Misha has spent countless hours supporting outreach activities helping to encourage young people to pursue STEM, particularly from underrepresented backgrounds. She participated at the Beyond Boundaries Competition, and helped St Peter’s college outreach scheme by showcasing her research to year 12 students on an engineering residential course.
Charlotte has been the student lead and driving force in setting up the PERIODically podcast project (see ‘Best Initiative’ category). She co-wrote the application to the Royal Society of Chemistry Equality and Diversity fund, recruited students to participant and lead meetings.
Part of Charlie’s nomination reads: “Aside from her amazing work on the Periodically podcast, she has been a remarkable mentor to me throughout this year and has gone above and beyond her duties to support me. Charlotte is an inspiration both professionally and personally. She is dedicated to ensuring that the environment we work in is one of equality and respect, and has spoken out against discrimination in difficult situations.”
Best Initiative: BIPOC STEM Network – Victor Ajuwon, Atreyi Chakrabarty, Sara Middleton, and Lauren Rudd founded the BIPOC STEM Network in 2020/21. The Network aims to highlight contributions of People of Colour in STEM, support navigating STEM as a Person of Colour, promote effective allyship and work with the University to implement policy aimed at improving diversity and inclusivity that draws on the experiences and insights of People of Colour.
Best Team Effort: Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 Organisers – Maria Christodoulou, Beverley Lane, Lucy Taylor and Jo Knights are a combination of professional services staff and researchers, from Statistics, Zoology and the MPLS Divisional Office. This team came together to organise a week-long programme of activity to help raise awareness around mental health, showcase resources available within the University, and to encourage staff and students to spend time focusing on their own wellbeing.
Outstanding ED&I Champion – Academic: Helen Byrne – for her sustained and inspiring commitment to the advancement of ED&I at all levels in the University, from department, to division, to cross-University.
Outstanding ED&I Champion – Professional Services: Beverley Lane – for her dedicated and continued support to advance equality, diversity and inclusion in Statistics and across the MPLS division.
Outstanding ED&I Champion – Researcher: Alex Ramadan – for Alex’s unwavering commitment to ED&I, both in the Physics department, across the MPLS division and as part of the Race Equality Task Force.
Outstanding ED&I Champion – Researcher: Tanesha Allen – for her inspiring work on championing equality, diversity and inclusion within the Biology department and across the division.
Outstanding ED&I Champion – Researcher: Lucy Taylor – for her tireless advocacy for mental health and equality for early career researchers.
The following individuals and initiatives were commended for their work and commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion:
- Equistats in the Department of Statistics (Best Initiative category)
- Challenges and Changes in the Department of Physics (Best Initiative category)
- LGBTQ+STEMinar 2021 Conference Organising Committee (Best Team Effort category)
- The Ambassador Programme in the Department of Engineering Science (Best Team Effort category)
Best Initiative: Shazeaa Ishmael and Women in Materials – for the development of the Career Pathways for Women in Science annual event in partnership with the Institute of Physics
Best Team Effort: RisingWISE team – for the development of the RisingWISE programme across University of Oxford and University of Cambridge, which aims to build a network of enterprising early-career researchers and women in industry to support women to thrive in careers across the science and technology sector
Lifetime Achievement: Benjamin Fernando – for the advancement of equality and diversity through his outstanding dedication, sustained commitment, and effective leadership
Student Choice Award: Professor Dominic Vella – for creating and fostering a diverse and inclusive research group, participating in programmes to promote scientific engagement, and inspiring and supporting students
Best Initiative: Mathematical Institute - for the “It All Adds Up” conference
Best Initiative: Abbie Muchecheti - for developing annual Anti-Bullying Week activities in the Department of Chemistry
Best Team Effort: Department of Chemistry and University Student Data Management and Analysis team –for the development of the Gender Gap Working Party to research, analyse and understand the gender gap in student examination performance
Lifetime Achievement: Catherine Goodwin – for the advancement of equality and diversity in the Mathematical Institute
Best Initiative: Professor Daniela Bortoletto - for developing the annual Conference of Undergraduate Women in Physics
Best Initiative: Dr Clara Barker - for developing a wide range of activities to support trans staff and students, and raise awareness within the Department of Materials, the University, and Oxfordshire communities
Best Team Effort: Oxford Women in the Computer Science Society - for the development of successful academic, industrial and social events aimed at supporting and promoting women in Computer Science
Lifetime Achievement: Professor Frances Kirwan FRS DBE - for demonstrating outstanding dedication, sustained commitment, and effective leadership in support of women in mathematics