UCL Division of Biosciences


Race Equity Committee

Our committee aims to expedite and extend the actions for race equity already underway in the Division and UCL, to foster further dialogue, identify issues and initiate new campaigns so as to catalyse change in all aspects of Divisional life.

World events including the brutal murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the disproportionate toll of COVID-19 on BAME communities have recently focused our attention towards addressing racism, inequality and discrimination. The Division of Biosciences is committed to promoting racial equity. The Biosciences Racial Equity Committee was founded to facilitate this task. 

We acknowledge that racism, systemic or individual, is pervasive and deeply embedded in our institution. As an educational institution and employer, we have been complicit in perpetuating racism - we accept responsibility for this, for not acting sooner and we promise to do better.

Racism and discrimination deeply impact the emotional and physical well-being and productivity of our BAME community. Importantly, they profoundly affect the Division as a whole. Diverse viewpoints are key to the creativity and research innovation we seek to foster. Our ability to achieve scientific and educational excellence is undermined by continued exclusion of large swaths of society from participating in our endeavours. Creating a culture free from racism and discrimination is essential for recruitment and retention of a diverse student body and workforce. 

We look forward to working together as a Division to make UCL's mission of a diverse intellectual community that is engaged with the wider world, a reality.

I joined UCL in 2006 as an EBMO-Marie Curie fellow and progressed to an academic post. I was active in the Athena Swan Self-Assessment Team in the Division for several years before joining the Race Equity Committee.

Email Nazif Alic

I joined UCL in 2015 as a postdoc. Since 2018 I have been a Lecturer of Human Anatomy. I am especially involved in projects related to reforming staff recruitment and retention policies to improve workplace culture and diversity. 

Email Ryan Felice

Charlette Bent-Gayle �

Charlette Bent-Gayle

I joined UCL in 2019 as an Executive Assistant. I joined the Race Equity Committee to bring the perspective of staff working in professional services. In addition to my role on the committee, I am also the division’s wellness champion.

Email Charlette Bent-Gayle

I joined UCL in 2018 as a Wellcome Trust Research Fellow in the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology. I am especially involved in projects related to evaluating and improving divisional culture.

Email Vilaiwan Fernandes

Charmian Dawson �

Charmian Dawson

I joined UCL as part of a teaching project in 2005 and became a Teaching Fellow in 2009. Currently, I divide my time between teaching and pursuing my PhD. I also represent the Faculty of Life Sciences on the BAME Awarding Gap project.

Email Charmian Dawson

I joined UCL in 2014. I  am a Professor of Neuroscience and a Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow. I chair the Race Equity Committee and work on projects to close the BAME Awarding Gap and create inclusive teaching. 

Email Tara Keck

Immediate focus areas 

The Biosciences Race Equity Committee (REC) was established in June 2020. Our goals are simple: To increase diversity within the division among students and staff and to improve culture within the division to retain and nurture diversity. Despite their simplicity, these are mammoth tasks. To best make use of limited time and resources, we have chosen to begin with a few immediate focus areas: 

  1. Closing the BAME Awarding Gap
  2. Evaluating divisional culture (more info coming soon!)
  3. Reforming staff recruitment and retention (more info coming soon!)

Closing the BAME Awarding Gap

Similar to other UK universities, UCL has a small but significant difference in the number of good degrees achieved by Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority (BAME) students, which is termed the BAME Awarding Gap. This gap cannot be explained solely by intersecting factors, such as prior achievement or other background experiences. As a part of UCL’s commitment to close this gap, our committee is focused on efforts to close the gap in the division. 
Towards this goal we have developed a programme to help new students successfully transition to UCL and we have received support from the BAME Awarding Gap Fund for this project. Prior to arriving at UCL and during their first year, students will engage with a number of activities that have been scientifically shown to help close the awarding gap on the topics of belonging, assessments, faculty interactions, growth mindset and the benefits of diversity. 

If you are interested in participating or learning more, please contact the project leads Charmian Dawson and Tara Keck.

Please see sidebar for relevant resources.

Evaluating divisional culture

To facilitate our efforts to ensure equity among staff in the Division, to build a diverse Divisional community representative of the UK and the world and to foster a Divisional culture where everyone is included regardless of their differences, we aim to continually monitor and assess divisional culture. To this end, the Biosciences REC will administer a staff and student survey. 
Note: The surveys will be administered by the committee and is completely anonymous. The committee will only ever present results of the survey as aggregate data where individual answers cannot be identified.
More information coming soon!