Imperial College’s MSRH hosted its first dedicated LGBTQ+ diversity event with Pride in STEM’s Out Thinkers sponsored by the ICB CDT.
Pride month was kicked off as Imperial College’s White City campus hosted its first dedicated diversity event on 4th June with Pride in STEM’s Out Thinkers. Out Thinkers serves to showcase the talent of LGBTQ+ researchers, providing a platform where people can talk about their scientific work while truly being themselves. Out Thinkers events feature a range of phenomenal speakers talking about their research and experiences as LGBTQ+ individuals in academia. Out Thinkers is run by the charity Pride in STEM a charitable trust run by an independent group of LGBTQ+ scientists & engineers from around the world. The trust aims to showcase and support all LGBTQ+ people in STEM fields by running events and providing role models to all LGBTQ+ people.
Hosted at the Molecular Sciences Research Hub, this Out Thinkers event had 7 incredible Imperial speakers talking both about their experiences of being LGBTQ+ in academia and talking about their research or working area. First Dr Alfredo Carpineti, chair of Pride in STEM, talked about what work still needs to be done in the LGBTQ+ community, and why we run events like Out Thinkers. Then the first research talk by Kailash Ramlaul, a 1st year PhD student in structural biology, talking about his work with cryoEM in the characterisation of protein complexes. Kailash’s PhD supervisor Dr. Christopher Aylett also turned up to support Kailash, he was highly commended in conversation afterwards for his support and allyship. Next Dr Michael Berthaume, a research associate in Bioengineering, talked about his experiences with the sudden fame of his research into a lesser known knee bone the ‘fabella’, and followed on by telling us some the interesting mechanics of the fabella and the epigenetic factors that cause the fabella to appear. Dr Christina Atchison first talked about the challenges of being LGBTQ+ in a job that requires global travel, she then gave an extremely important talk about taking into account social factors when managing disease outbreak response.
Dr Imogen Gingell talked about the need for explicit trans support and trans inclusion, the rainbow flag just isn’t enough.
"the rainbow flag just isn’t enough" Dr Imogen Gingell Research Associate in Space Physics
The second half saw Dr Imogen Gingell, a space plasma physicist, talk about her experiences being trans in Imperial especially concerning the topic of name changes in the middle of a scientific career. She then talked about her research studying the interaction between the Sun and Earth's magnetic field and allowed us to hear what it sounded like when the Juno spacecraft passed through the shockwave in front of Jupiter. Dr Steve Cook, a teaching fellow in life sciences, then talked about botany, teaching and science communication as well as his well-reasoned opinions on the Panda. ICB CDT student Felix Sheffield talked about his experience moving away from his small Cornish town to more inclusive environments and followed up by explaining his work studying the passive permeation of small molecules in model membrane systems. Finally, Caz Ulley, co-chair of Imperial 600 the university’s LGBTQ+ staff network, talked about the work she does and the importance of our rainbow lanyards.
ICB CDT student Felix Sheffield talking about leaving his hometown to be in a more inclusive environment and his work on permeability assays.
The reception afterwards, sponsored by the Institute of Chemical Biology Centre of Doctoral Training (ICB CDT), was awash with conversation about how we can better support our trans staff and students, what people thought of the new white city campus, as well as talking about when the next Out Thinkers event is. (Btw the next Out Thinkers event is at the Crick on 4th July https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/out-thinkers-the-francis-crick-institute-lgbtstemday-tickets-62046376382 )
“Events such as Out Thinkers are incredibly useful as a way of drawing together our scientific community." Caz Ulley Co-chair of Imperial College’s LGBTQ+ staff network ‘Imperial 600’
Caz Ulley, co-chair of Imperial College’s LGBTQ+ staff network ‘Imperial 600’, said “Events such as Out Thinkers are incredibly useful as a way of drawing together our scientific community. As a staff network, one of our key goals is to create more visibility of the LGBTQ+ community across the College, so it was great to have this opportunity to hear from so many Imperial folk speaking proudly about being out in the STEM world, as well as about their fantastic work to make the world a better place. For anyone who may not yet be at the point where they feel comfortable being out at work, I hope that knowing that there are other LGBTQ+ scientists, engineers and medics out there will help to reassure them that when/if they’re ever ready to take that step they won’t be alone.”
"Role models are crucial to change hearts and minds." Dr Alfredo Carpineti Chair of Pride in STEM
Dr Alfredo Carpineti, chair of Pride in STEM and science communicator for IFL science, said “Running Out Thinkers events is both a pleasure and privilege for us. It is great to meet so many extraordinary people in STEM and we are very proud we can give them a space where they can discuss both their work and their experience as LGBTQ+ people. Role models are crucial to change hearts and minds. And what we do is just another part of the global efforts to raise the profile of under-represented groups in STEM”
Pride in STEM
Dr. Alfredo Carpineti
Dr Michael Berthaume
Dr Christina Atchison
Dr Imogen Gingell
Dr Steve Cook
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