Dr Mary Mazzilli, Acting Deputy Dean, Postgraduate Research Training and Senior Lecturer, has been leading the Black Researchers’ Hub project, a digital platform offering guidance, training and job opportunities to Black students who are interested in pursuing a career in research.

Here, she gives an update on the project and tells us more about how departments can get involved.

Can you give a progress report on the project?

We have reached a pivotal moment in this project. The Black Researchers’ Hub as part of Chart My Path was launched at the end of October with the first activities being offered from Proficio, the library and Essex Startups. Also, the first major paid placement opportunities were launched and these were with Open Innovation and the Brilliant Club.

There is more to come in January with a mentorship scheme to be launched; and brand new bespoke activities from Vitae, The Essex Student Journal, and Decolonising the curriculum.

Also, the Brilliant Club and the Open Innovation PhD paid placement are due to be re-launched in January.

Who is the Black Researchers’ Hub aimed at?

The hub is open to all (UG, PGT, PGR) Black (including those of mixed-race Black ethnicity), UK-domiciled students. For those who want to get involved and have not self-declared their ethnicity at registration, please email brh@essex.ac.uk.

The project is collaborative and needs student involvement to shape it – can you tell us what you’re looking for in terms of feedback from students?

We want to know whether the activities are fit for purpose and where there is an interest in developing new activities. We also want to hear from Black students about their lived experience as a Black student at Essex with aspirations towards a career in research.

Are you looking for ideas and feedback from other academic staff? If so, how can they view the platform and submit ideas?

More than feedback (which is always welcome), we want to hear about ideas for activities, their experiences of supervising or working with Black students, and/or their experiences of becoming an academic, especially if they come from ethnic minority background. We will soon be launching a staff-PhD student mentorship programme and we hope to get as many academics involved as possible.

Get in touch with us via our dedicated email at ttproject@essex.ac.uk.

Who is taking over from you and what are the priorities for the next stage of the project?

Professor Ilaria Boncori is coming back toward the end of January and she will build on the activities and opportunities that have already been set. Ilaria is a great academic and leader. I am confident she will see this project through and make it successful and meaningful to all Essex students.