University of Strathclyde: £1.25M Project to build a diverse energy research community

A £1.25M project is tackling the lack of diversity in energy research by harnessing the talents of researchers from all backgrounds.

The University of Strathclyde leads the IGNITE Network+ with partners Imperial College London, the University of Manchester, the University of Nottingham, the University of Bristol, Queen’s University Belfast and Brunel University London.

The Innovation and Growth Needs Inclusion and engagement of all Talent in Energy project aims to build an interdisciplinary community of energy researchers based on equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) and accessibility.

The project is funded by an EDI Network+ grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), part of UK Research & Innovation and will work to support sustainable, abundant, clean and equitable energy for all, by harnessing the talents of energy researchers from all backgrounds.

Systemic inequality
It will critically evaluate stages in the pathway of energy researchers and identify and challenge systemic inequities at all career stages. Data, including rarely available intersectional information, will be collected that can expose systemic inequality.

Researchers from disadvantaged and underrepresented backgrounds will be supported through organisational interventions, mentorship, advice and advocacy.

Initiatives arising from consultation with the research community will be a key component of the network, with 40% of the funding allocated to flexible funding calls to address energy research challenges, and fund initiatives in support of EDI.

Principal Investigator, Professor Rebecca Lunn from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Strathclyde said:

There is a real lack of diversity in energy research which stems not from a lack of interest, talent or ambition in underrepresented individuals, but from systemic inequalities in UK systems and institutions.
“IGNITE Network+ will focus on transforming diversity by critically evaluating systemic inequalities at each stage in the career pathways of energy researchers. We will design and implement initiatives to remove barriers to success for underrepresented individuals and monitor the performance of these initiatives.

“In parallel, we will work to support individuals from disadvantaged and underrepresented backgrounds through a mixture of organisational interventions, mentorship, advice and advocacy.”

Breaking barriers
Professor Sir Jim McDonald, Principal of Strathclyde said: “The IGNITE Network+ aligns with and reflects our own ambitions at Strathclyde to break down barriers to education and promote equality of opportunity across our learning, teaching, research and working environments.

“The journey to a decarbonised energy future must also be seen as a just transition; this will be enhanced further by supporting the creation of a more inclusive and diverse community of energy researchers and innovators.”

The project work will be complemented by separate research carried out by Professor Simone Abram at Durham University, a Director in the Durham Energy Institute, also funded by EPSRC. The EDI+ national fellowship scheme will address key challenges and equip a cohort of researchers and their organisations to make lasting changes towards a diverse, equitable, inclusive and accessible research community.

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