As Professor of Environment and Development at the Open University, UK, Shonil’s research sits at the cross-section between natural and social sciences and it centres on the links between environment and development. In particular, his research engages critically with discussions on a variety of key environmental concerns: agriculture and food security, biodiversity conservation, climate change and sustainability. It addresses these global challenges within the context of growing discussion on the Anthropocene, the age of humans. Shonil is a Co-investigator on the Astrobiology OU, a multidisciplinary research group working collaboratively to address the scientific, governance and ethical challenges associated with space research whilst ensuring societal benefits and sustainability.
Currently, Shonil is the Head of School of Social Sciences and Global Studies within the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Previously, he was the Head of Discipline of Geography at the Open University. Before joining The Open University as Lecturer in Geography in February 2013, Shonil directed an international and interdisciplinary masters programme in Biodiversity, Conservation and Management at the School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, UK (2009-2013). He has also held post-doctoral research appointments at the University of Oxford (2006-2009) and at the Natural History Museum, London, UK (2003-2006), prior to which he completed his PhD (2002) and MSc (1998) at the University of Oxford and MSc (1996) and BSc (1994) at the University of Pune, India.
I am a genderqueer gay geochemist and environmental mineralogist, originally from the Netherlands, but since 2008 based in the UK and since 2016 in Scotland. Throughout my career at multiple institutes I have been involved in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committees. Also, at these institutes I have always been open about being gay, and subsequently I have experienced (and noticed) the best and the worst in dealing with (and rewarding) diverse staff and students. I found it specifically unsettling that some of the worst behaviour has come from senior academics who “shout” about their activities to increase diversity within academia. This has ranged from proposing only male academics for advisory boards, to telling (me) to just hide being gay and genderqueer when visiting the UAE. Since, by being open about my struggles to others, I have also become much more aware of the disadvantages experienced by other minoritised communities. Because of my own experiences and the stories others have told me, I have become more invigorated to actually achieve meaningful and lasting change within academia (and environmental sciences specifically), not just with respect to sexuality and gender identity, but also as an (active) ally to ethic/racial minorities. I hope that through the NERC funded E-DIAL project I can help to achieve this goal.
Susan is a low temperature metal isotope geochemist, interested in developing novel tracers of carbon cycling in the past and present ocean. She is currently serving as co-chair of the EAG diversity, equity and inclusion committee, working to enable improved access to, and inclusivity and recognition within the discipline of geochemistry. She is delighted to be part of the E-DIAL team. Collecting meaningful data is vital to identifying barriers to participation, and Susan hopes the data-driven approach of E-DIAL will be the catalyst for real change in the UK geochemistry community.
Pallavi is an ocean biogeochemist, palaeoceanographer and palaeoclimatologist with growing passion for addressing diversity, equity and inclusion in geochemistry and palaeoclimatology. She was born and educated in India until she came to the UK to do her PhD and postdocs in the Netherlands and UK. She has diverse life experiences that have made her empathetic, supportive and inclusive. She is constantly learning and changing, so she welcomes your input and feedback to be better informed and to improve.
She has been working with the diversity, equity and inclusion groups of European Association of Geochemistry and Geochemical Society since 2020. She is proud to have brought together the E-DIAL team to find out how diverse and inclusive the UK geochemistry community is. She hopes to engage and connect with the community to bring awareness and change.
Dr Jessica Gagnon (@Jess_Gagnon) is an educational sociologist, focused on inequalities in higher education. She has worked in higher education in the US and UK for more than 20 years. Jessica is a first-generation student from an American working-class, single mother family. She currently serves as co-chair for the Gender and Education Association, an international, intersectional feminist academic charity founded in 1997, focused on achieving gender equality within and through education. Jessica is a lecturer in the Manchester Institute of Education at the University of Manchester. Before joining Manchester, Jessica was a Research Fellow for STEM Equals, an EPSRC funded project focused on women and LGBTQ+ people in STEM. Previous to STEM Equals, she co-wrote the research funding bid for and led the Office for Students funded Changing Mindsets project, a two year, multi-university research project focused on the unequal experiences and outcomes of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) and socio-economically disadvantaged students in the UK.
As a first generation university graduate from rural Malawi, I learnt early in life that success is not only about ability but more about opportunities. A 3rd cousin, in his first year as a primary school teacher “spotted my abilities” and took me under his wing. He remains to this day my role model, the giant whose shoulder provided a solid foundation for where I am today. I reminisce about those people who were brighter than me but didn’t have the same opportunities, and got married at the age of 16. I see now many able graduate students of colour who end up with no career in STEM, and I feel lucky and grateful to those people that have shown faith in me throughout my career.
Hence, I did not hesitate when I was asked to join the EAG-DEI Committee. Upon joining, I was immediately shocked to find that we couldn’t identify a single female black peer to join the group. Really? In 2020? Rectifying such Exclusions is sufficient motivation for me to work towards Inclusion, through creating opportunities for visibility of ALL under-represented groups. Without such visible role models, EAG’s pronouncements on DEI will soon become footnotes in the history of our subject. We can change that course.
Ernest was born in Cameroon. He obtained a PhD in Geomicrobiology from Gothenburg University, Sweden. Ernest was a Marie Curie fellow and a recipient of an ERC starting grant from the European Research Council. Studying and working in 8 academic institutions spread across Africa, Europe and North America, has exposed Ernest to diverse cultures and societies. He currently is a senior lecturer at the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Cardiff University, where he is the director of Postgraduate Research Studies. Being a first generation immigrant has afforded Ernest a unique perspective into life and living in an all-black society and the challenges of being a minority person in a western setting. He notes that discrimination exists in all societies. In Africa, tribalism and linguistic, sexual orientation and gender discrimination are rife. In western societies, chronic and systemic racism and religious discrimination are the most prominent, while gender and sexual orientation bias remain a major problem. Ernest’s experience with discrimination contextualised to these different societies and cultures is a major force for joining the EAG-DEI Committee. He seeks to lift up the voices of minority people at the fringes of society by focusing light on the biases that hinder exploration of their ingenuity, talent and potential to contribute towards humanity’s collective progress.
Francis is an accomplished and results-driven professional with a career marked by documented success and substantial broad-based experience managing all facets of geographical and environmental change research and development. In my career, I am adept at conducting in-depth research, preparing manuscripts for publication overseeing, developing, and spearheading educational programmes, policies, initiatives for institute growth.
My present research focuses on using qualitative research methods, including individual in-depth interviews, focus groups and expert roundtables to engage with different stakeholders to determine the sociocultural factors affecting how decisions are translated into climate adaptation responses, and explore local perceptions in developing adaptation solutions to improve resilience. In my Ph.D. project, I conducted studies into the responses and underlying principles of smallholder farmer communities to significant social and environmental changes such as extreme droughts. I am currently a Visiting Fellow with the Development Policy & Practice (DPP) group in the School of Social Sciences & Global Studies (SSGS) at The Open University.
Francis will be a social science expert researcher on the E-DIAL project. He will be working full time in supporting the project by preparing template for advertising and promotion of the project, prepare and edit survey questionnaire, collect data for analyses, prepare outputs for publications and work in the team to support project deliverables.
Amy is a geochemist, igneous petrologist, and educator who utilises chemical tracers among rocks from space to tackle problems of how planets form. The results of these studies are furthered via collaborations with scientists of other disciplines, as well as space mission leaders and planners. She is currently Chairing the November 2022 Forming and Exploring Habitable Worlds meeting in Edinburgh. Additionally, Amy is a person with an international work history, is a National Geographic Explorer, a woman who was a firstgen from her family at university, and is of an underrepresented intersectional identity in STEMM. She is generally a private person but is open about her invisible disability arising from clinical exhaustion, clinical anxiety, and depression experienced at an earlier time. These are factors that deepen her empathy, sense of dignity and grace, and feed into her motivations to assist others. Amy is passionate about the creation of friendly and empowering learning and working environments, contributing at national and international levels.
Being part of the UK E-DIAL team is a great honour, complementing activities in Co-Chairing the European Association of Geochemistry’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, where the team listen to and learn from community members to bring progressive reforms. STEMM and the geosciences in the UK (and elsewhere) are widely understood to be suffering from the ill effects of a diversity crisis. Is geochemistry any kinder to its people, less prone to damaging casualisation and overwork, and more diverse and inclusive than its sister subjects? Or is geochemistry worse off? Can it be improved? We need the community’s help; these questions can only be answered as part of responsibly continuing to make geochemistry better for all as a joint force. Amy believes that the ability to positively influence decision makers and drive change is in all of us; collective dedication to just cause is powerful beyond measure.
Elena is an early career geochemist with a varied educational background driven by a curiosity to learn and try new things. Her current research interests relate to the impacts of explosive volcanic eruptions in the Earth System, and her enthusiasm to acquire and share knowledge underlies a broader endeavour to inspire others about nature and our planet. She is a first-generation scientist of mixed heritage and citizenship and feels incredibly privileged to have lived in different countries throughout her life. However, being an ‘outsider’ in language, culture or appearance has sometimes presented its own challenges, both apart from and within her studies and work. As a member of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Committee of the European Association of Geochemistry, Elena is delighted to be a part of the E-DIAL team investigating DEI in the UK geochemistry community, towards the goal of bringing awareness and change to barriers in the geochemistry academic ladder.
Anya Lawrence is an Early Career Researcher currently based at the University of Birmingham. With a background in Environmental and Earth Sciences, including Geochemistry, current research interests in the social sciences and accessibility advocacy, and the lived experience of having an intersectional identity, Anya is keen to improve equality, diversity and inclusion in STEM subjects and wider higher education.