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New Women in STEM hub fosters interdisciplinary research culture at Kingston University

Posted Thursday 14 December 2023

New Women in STEM hub fosters interdisciplinary research culture at Kingston University Dr Purva Tavri, Professor Jean-Christophe Nebel and Dr Farzana Rahman

Academics from Kingston University have established a new research hub to enhance collaboration and reduce gender disparity in research.

The Women in STEM Hub (WISH) was founded at Kingston University by two female academics looking to enhance opportunities for women and underrepresented researchers to lead and collaborate on interdisciplinary projects. WISH also provides workshops for staff and postgraduate researchers led by external academics and professionals.

The founders, Dr Purva Tavri (environmental management) and Dr Farzana Rahman (data science), joined forces to initiate the WISH in 2022. So far, WISH has funded six interdisciplinary pilot research projects led by women from the Faculty of Engineering, Computing and the Environment. WISH also brought in four external speakers to the University. These speakers were female experts from industry and academia who shared their journeys and experiences.

WISH was encouraged by their respective research directors, Professor Jean-Christophe Nebel and Dr Siaka Dembele from both schools since its inception. Dr Tavri said, "We wanted to enhance the research culture across the faculty, and a project like this was a perfect way to do it." Additionally, Dr Rahman noted, "Leading on WISH has allowed me to challenge myself and develop my project management skills. Thanks to this project, we have made the research culture much richer in the faculty."

WISH made a positive impact on 14 Seed-funded staff and Postgraduate Researchers (PGRs) as well as 80 individuals who participated in the external speaker series.

The seed-funded projects ranged from highly technical developments through to contributions towards social and inclusive research. 75 percent of project leads said that it helped with their career progression and 100 percent said it increased their networking opportunities.

Dr Rahman explained how leading WISH has helped her collaboration opportunity at Kingston University. "I was relatively new to the organisation when I started so being a part of this project has given me a platform to get to know my colleagues at Kingston," she said. "The interdisciplinary nature of the research has really enhanced my professional scope within Kingston University and working with Dr Tavri has been a real pleasure."

Coming from a professional background Dr Tavri also shared that WISH enabled her to expand her experience of collaborative research, which helped her gain her experience and knowledge by working with Dr Farzana from an interdisciplinary domain.

The seed-funded projects and the WISH have the potential to be included in The University's Research Excellence Framework in 2028, which assesses the quality and impact of research. The project team was recognised at 2023's Kingston University Staff Awards, where the WISH received runner-up in the Enterprising category.

After a successful first year, WISH will continue into 2024 with a launch event to be held in January to encourage new research projects as part of the hub as well as a variety of guest speakers planned for throughout next year.

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