UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology


Major strides towards equality and harnessing the power of diversity at the Institute of Neurology

1 December 2020

​​​​​​​We’re delighted to announce the appointment of our first Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Deputy Institute Director and the relaunch of our Athena SWAN website.

our values

Our journey to equality

The Institute recognises, values and celebrates the diversity of its staff, students and collaborators, and pledges to promote equality of opportunities. 

Building an equitable and inclusive community is a long journey that requires strategy and commitment from all levels of an organisation. The IoN Athena SWAN Self-Assessment Committee was first established in 2012. The Institute received its first Bronze Award in 2013, followed by an upgrade to Silver in 2015. In December 2019, we submitted an application for the renewal of our Silver award, which was successfully granted in the summer of 2020.

"The current culture in the Institute is inclusive. Teamwork is highly valued, individual strengths are recognised and celebrated, and there is a commitment to advancing the careers of everyone, regardless of gender or role. We aim to provide a family friendly environment where both women and men feel able to take the time they need for family." Professor Michael Hanna, Director of the UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology


Key progress since our last Athena SWAN award:

  • 400% increase in successful female promotions 
  • 100% record of success for candidates for senior promotions and 5 new female Professors in 2020
  • 99% of Professors and 95% of all PIs have completed UCL Taking the Lead training and  50% of all staff and PhD students have completed UCL Where Do You Draw the Line training

Appointment of ION's first EDI Deputy Institute Director 

helene plun favreau

We're pleased to announce that Professor Helene Plun-Favreau has been appointed as our EDI Deputy Institute Director.

“I am delighted to be appointed IoN EDI Deputy Director. I will bring all my energy, enthusiasm and determination to build an even more diverse and inclusive community at the IoN, and more generally at UCL”

New Athena SWAN Project manager 

Dr Ana De Sousa e Faro
We are delighted to announce that we appointed Dr Ana De Sousa e Faro, as full-time Athena SWAN Project Manager in summer 2020.


Ana is a Biologist by training, with a PhD in Stem Cell Biology, from the Utrecht University, and a post-doctorate in Developmental Neurobiology from UCL. In her spare time, Ana always had the desire to create a positive social impact, having worked to promote science and critical thinking via the outreach and education of young people and to increase representation of people from diverse backgrounds in STEMM. Currently she volunteers as Impact Report Manager for Native Scientist and as Head of Research for WHEN (Women in Higher Education Network). 

"It was an honor to be offered the possibility of joining IoN as the Athena SWAN Project Manager. I have always been interested in widening opportunities in STEMM and have worked towards increasing diversity in Academia via outreach, advocacy, and policy. I am truly excited about using my skills and expertise to help IoN cultivate a fair, diverse and inclusive community."


Launch of new ION Athena SWAN website and ION EDI twitter

Come and visit our new ION Athena SWAN website – a place to celebrate our diversity and our achievements, including:

  • Women in Queen Square: Inspirational female scientists, past and present, who have been fundamental to Queen Square's success.
  • Celebrating People of IoN: Colleagues, students, and alumni that lead by example of kindness and work ethic and help make IoN such an inspiring and welcoming workplace.

Follow us on our new @UCLION_EDI on twitter promoting fairness, equality and inclusion within ION

website and twitter screenshots

Strategic focus for 2021

One of the areas of focus for 2021 is understanding the impact COVID-19 and the national lockdown had in our community of researchers and our support staff, and devising actions to mitigate this impact where possible.

Furthermore, the IoN is committed to broaden the remit of its Equality, Diversity and Inclusive work. As such, one of the areas for focus in 2021 is in understanding the intersection between gender and ethnicity in student experience and in career progression in the IoN. 



Graphic based on open text answers from the IoN Athena SWAN committee members on "the values that made you gravitate towards the work of this committee."