A £1.25m project is tackling the lack of diversity in energy research by harnessing the talents of researchers from all backgrounds.
Led by University of Strathclyde, IGNITE Network+ brings together partners University of Nottingham, Imperial College London, the University of Manchester, 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’-research project aims to build an interdisciplinary community of energy researchers based on equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) and accessibility.
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.”
Funded by an EDI Network+ grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), part of UK Research & Innovation, the project will work to support ‘sustainable, abundant, clean and equitable energy for all’ by harnessing the talents of energy researchers from all backgrounds.
According to the organisers, the project 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.
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.