Increasing diversity in environmental science

  • Date

    Mon 5 Sep 22

Students in lab at summer school

Scientists from our School of Life Sciences organised a summer school to increase diversity and accessibility in environmental sciences.

Funded by NERC – the Natural Environment Research Council – the Environmental Science Summer School recruited 16 sixth formers from north and east London, in collaboration with the charity In2scienceUK, which aims to empower young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to gain a career in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths).

The event was part of a wider project, led by Professors Leanne Hepburn and Alex Dumbrell, along with research assistant Dr Bethan Greenwood, to increase accessibility, diversity, and inclusion in environmental science.

Professor Hepburn explained: “The project has been running since January and we have been collecting data from sixth formers, undergraduate students and environmental organisations to understand the barriers to diversity, accessibility and inclusion in environmental degrees and careers.

“The Environmental Science Summer School was a great success where the sixth formers spent a week with us in the lab and in the field and worked with our academics to discover coral biology, sustainable agriculture, oil degradation, marine biofouling, molecular ecology of soils and microbiology of the local estuary.”

Dr Greenwood added: “Environmental research at the University of Essex has wide-ranging applications in wildlife conservation, human health and policy making, which we’re eager for young people to get involved with and understand.”

The organisers now plan to use the summer school as a blueprint to run similar annual events for local sixth formers interested in environmental science.