Outreach, Education, and Diversity: a new look

28 February 2021 - By: Rebecca Ellerington

The Society for Experimental Biology has officially launched its new Outreach, Education, and Diversity programme!

Early last year the SEB unveiled our Strategic Plan 2020–25. While the strategy encompasses all of the Society’s aspirations and priorities, there is a clear focus on extending the Society’s outreach, and improving engagement with our current and potential members, stakeholders, and the public. Two further objectives are to empower SEB members to contribute to the public understanding of science, and to champion diversity matters across the Society and beyond.

With this in mind, we would like to introduce you to the new face of SEB Outreach, Education, and Diversity (OED), and share some of the exciting plans we have.

THE TEAM

We have a brand-new team helping us achieve our bold plan, and now is a great time to introduce them.

Rebecca Ellerington: OED Manager

Rebecca-Ellerington 

Rebecca joined the SEB team in May 2020 and, despite not meeting anyone in person yet owing to COVID restrictions, she has immediately bonded with the other team members and is already making significant contributions to our outreach, education, and diversity work. “While I have a background in both bioscience research and outreach work, throughout my career the most exciting times have been when I’ve taken my passion for research and science and tried to communicate that to groups outside my field,” says Rebecca. “It’s great to see people who wouldn’t normally interact with science get excited about research. If I can use my new role to help other SEB members to do that too, I think it will be brilliant for research, for career development, and for personal enjoyment.”

One issue Rebecca feels very strongly about is increasing diversity in science and academia. “Diversity and equality is not only fair, but the unique perspectives and individual experiences each person brings to the table will help us solve the immense scientific challenges we are facing today. In this role, I hope to introduce initiatives to inspire the next generation, no matter their background, to pursue a career in bioscience, and help SEB members develop valuable career skills in the process by getting involved.”

 

Andreas Fahlman: OED Trustee

Andreas Fahlman

Andreas is a comparative physiologist with over 20 years of experience in science. In the last 7–8 years, Andreas has become particularly interested in science outreach and communication. “Much of my work is based in public facilities, which has allowed me to understand the limitations most scientists have in making their work palatable for the general public. It has also allowed me to see the public’s lack of knowledge about the scientific process, and some of the most rewarding moments in my scientific career have been those when you talk about your work with a person and you see they go from being suspicious about the ongoing research to being passionate about the conservation aspects that comparative physiology has on saving wild animals,” says Andreas. “With this experience, I would like to help shape and transform scientific communication, education, and outreach for young scientists and the SEB community.”

 

Sheila Amici-Dargan: OED Trustee

 Sheila Amici-Dargan

Sheila is an Associate Professor in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Bristol, UK, where she currently teaches Neuroscience and Physiology to undergraduate Biology students. “After many years undertaking laboratory-based research I realised that my passion is rooted in education and I have active interests in science outreach and pedagogic research.My educational research projects include developing effective and sustainable ‘communities of practice’ in higher education, enhancing student-led collaborative and social learning within and beyond the classroom, and innovations in assessment and feedback. As an OED Trustee for the SEB, I look forward to organising events and workshops to promote sharing of best practice in teaching and learning, and educational research.”

 

WHAT HAVE WE BEEN UP TO SO FAR? 

To keep our members’ professional development on track, we have developed a series of career-building workshops and webinars across the year. These are free for SEB members, with additional resources and recordings available where possible, for on-demand access via the members’ area.

Career webinars 

Webinars covering the following topics have already been organised, and full details can be found on the SEB website:

  • Public Engagement 101
  • Three-Minute Pitch
  • Getting Started with Interdisciplinary Collaboration
  • Quick Start Guide to Connecting with Industry

Resources from the webinars including recordings of workshops (where applicable) are available for SEB members on the member’s area.

Upcoming career webinars include:

  • Practical Presentation Skills for Scientists & Researchers (12 - 26 May 2021)
  • Poster Design & Presentation for Scientists & Researchers (20 - 27 May 2021)

Partnerships with other organisations

We are also working with our partner organisations to widen our reach and bring the benefits directly to our members. To provide further professional development opportunities, we have secured free priority places for SEB members at a range of Standing up for Science workshops across the year, and we have offered members the chance to have their say as representatives at the Royal Society of Biology (RSB) Parliamentary Links Day. Across the year, the SEB is also pleased to have sponsored RSB ‘Policy Lates’ events, a series of webinars bringing a panel of experts together for an informal debate on contemporary science policy topics such as climate change, human health, and antimicrobial resistance.

We didn’t forget the younger generation of scientists either, running a Junior Science Writing Competition in conjunction with the British Pharmacological Society and taking part in the Online Glasgow Science Festival.

 

New Funding Initiatives

Excitingly, we have also introduced new funding initiatives to promote and assist in diversity and outreach initiatives. Details of these can be found in the Grants and Funding section of this magazine (page xx). In the coming year we will be looking at introducing additional funding schemes to further our members’ careers. These will be announced in due course so keep an eye out for announcements in the SEB newsletter and on our website.

With such as large range of events and opportunities in the pipeline, including webinars, career workshops, and outreach opportunities, there’s plenty to get excited about. The heart of the SEB is its members, and we always strive to represent you and your needs. That’s why we would love for you to be involved. If you have any ideas or requests, or just want to know more, please get in touch! (r.ellerington@sebiology.org)

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