Petra Korlevic, Wellcome Sanger Institute

Work to promote race equity in science celebrated at Best Practice Awards

The Wellcome Genome Campus holds its annual awards for Best Practice for Supporting Equality and Diversity in Science, in celebration of International Women’s Day

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The Best Practice Awards celebrate staff who have made significant contributions to advancing equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in science, underlining the Campus’ commitment to supporting career development for women and under-represented groups. This year, staff at the Wellcome Genome Campus nominated 18 colleagues from across the campus community.

Today, on International Women’s Day, the overall winner is announced and we congratulate Dr Piraveen Gopalasingam from EMBL’s European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI). Besides his role as an Off-site Scientific Training Officer, Piv is a passionate advocate for equality in science and is recognised for his work in leading the Genome Campus’ Race Equity Network, which unites colleagues in a collegiate forum to discuss and tackle race equity issues.

“I’m really surprised and pleased to be nominated, it feels wonderful to be recognised for the time and effort I have put into EDI. I’d also like to highlight that this has been a team effort and to say thank you to the founders, committee, supporters and members of the Race Equity Network, and to all those contributing to equality across Campus.”

Dr Piraveen GopalasingamOff-site Scientific Training Officer at EMBL-EBI

In addition to our winner, four other people received special commendations for their work.

Dr Alice Matimba, Acting Head of Courses & Global Training at Wellcome Connecting Science, was commended for leading a new approach in the global training programme, ensuring that courses are led from the global south with decision makers and course development from scientists based in regions in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Alice also became the first person to ‘reverse mentor’ a member of senior management in issues around EDI.

Professor Muzlifah Haniffa, Associate Faculty in Cellular Genetics at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, was commended for her contribution to discussions around EDI, whether giving talks herself or hosting events such as the Research Excellence – the Power of Diversity speaker series with Dr Addy Adelaine. Muzz has long been a role model for minority and women scientists, championing a collaborative and supportive research culture based on team science.

A special commendation was awarded to Dr Cath Brooksbank, Head of the EMBL-EBI Training Programme, for her stalwart support for equality in science initiatives for over a decade. As a leader, she encourages the discussion of EDI themes and is mindful of their impact on the lives of team members. Cath is also active in EMBL’s EDI Forum, leading a task force to embed EDI best practice into training, from the equitable selection of candidates to ensuring accessibility for those with disabilities.

The final commendation went to Em Dixon, Science Engagement Manager for Schools at Wellcome Connecting Science. Em set up training for her team on Power and Privilege to help them reflect on the equity of their Public Engagement work, from ensuring programme imagery is representative to developing new content on unsung science heroes. Em also played a key role in the Black STEMM Future programme, which has so far supported 159 students from minority ethnic backgrounds to undertake a Youth STEMM Award.

“On behalf of myself and the Wellcome Genome Campus, I’d like to congratulate this year’s Best Practice Awards winner and those who received special commendations on their efforts to create a more diverse and inclusive scientific community. They are a shining example to us all and these awards are richly deserved. Hearing about the work of all those nominated this year, it strikes me how wide-ranging, creative and mature the EDI initiatives on Campus have become.”

Professor Sir Mike StrattonDirector of the Wellcome Sanger Institute and CEO of the Wellcome Genome Campus

More information

More information about Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at the Sanger Institute is available on our website.