Imperial College London: New networks support Imperial’s Black postdoctoral researchers and alumni

Two recently formed networks, for postdoctoral researchers and alumni of the College, will foster collaboration and knowledge sharing.

The Black Postdoctoral Network was established in November 2021 to support the College’s Black postdoctoral researchers – those professionally conducting research after the completion of their doctoral studies.

Opportunities are heightened by collaboration
Dr Sarah Essilfie-Quaye
Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Research Fellow
The aims of the Network are to support Black postdocs and fellows, increase the profile of Black academics and build a network of Black researchers across the academic pipeline, collaborating with the College’s Black Doctoral Network. The Network had its first event in February, where attendees heard from the College’s three Black professors: Eric Aboagye, Faith Osier and Washington Ochieng.

Attendees also heard from the College’s Race Equality Charter (REC) coordinator. The Race Equality Charter aims to improve the representation, progression and success of minority ethnic staff and students within higher education by providing a framework for universities to self-reflect on institutional and cultural barriers standing in the way of minority ethnic staff and students – and develop initiatives to remove these.

Strengthening collaboration
“Opportunities are heightened by collaboration,” says Dr Sarah Essilfie-Quaye, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Research Fellow and co-chair of the Network. Sarah and fellow chairs of the Network hope that it will strengthen collaboration, allow members to build their networks, and encourage knowledge sharing – for example, someone may get advice from a colleague on applying for a particular research grant.

Anyone interested in joining the Black Postdoctoral Network or learning more about initiatives for Black academics at the College can get in touch with the committee.

Imperial Black Alumni Network
The College’s Alumni Relations team are working with alumni to establish a network for Imperial graduates of Black heritage. The Network will initially aim to:

Support the personal and professional development and lifelong learning of Black heritage alumni through peer-to-peer support, networking and events
Build on the unique shared experience of Imperial alumni and promote the exchange of inspirational ideas, know-how, resources, and insights
Leverage and celebrate the achievements of its community to inspire and support other Black heritage alumni and students to advance in their careers
Provide a source of support for relevant initiatives and programmes at the College
They hope to officially launch in summer 2022 and are currently recruiting volunteer committee members. Committee members will collaborate with Imperial’s Alumni Relations team to shape the network’s strategy, events and activities.

Alumni-led network
“We want the network to be alumni-led,” says Kellianne Bartley, Alumni Engagement Officer. An initial discussion with over 80 alumni and students in February explored what the network could look like, how it could benefit members and create a supportive community. Kellianne adds: “A key part of the network will be creating a supportive community and fostering a greater sense of belonging through events and initiatives that bring alumni and students of Black heritage together.”

Alumni who attended the initial discussion said that it was great to come together as a community to hear different and varied experiences and opportunities, and share feedback and perspectives.

This new Network will join other alumni groups, such as Imperial Women’s Network and the Healthcare Network. These professional interest and affinity networks provide a forum for Imperial alumni and professionals working in, or with a particular interest in, a specific sector to share ideas, challenges and expertise, and address topics of interest in their sector, industry, or community.

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