Diversity, equity and inclusion research in environmental science

Small river in marshlands.

NERC is pleased to award £1.7m funding to a diverse range of projects seeking to make environmental science more diverse, equitable and inclusive (DEI).

Projects range from investigating the causes of low diversity of environmental science to using digital technologies and platforms to improve access of underserved researchers to ship time and analytical facilities.

Innovative approaches

Researchers have received funding to:

  • tackle specific DEI challenges facing environmental science disciplines
  • test effective approaches to improve DEI
  • bring together individuals to raise the awareness of opportunities for increasing diversity within the environmental sciences.

Several activities exploring the use of digital technologies in to remove barriers in environmental science research have been awarded support through a new hackathon-based funding approach called a ‘digital sprint’.

Digital sprints encourage better understanding of how cutting-edge digital technologies and methods can be leveraged. This approach focused on collaboration in teams to develop solutions and subsequently research proposals.

Supporting researchers

Susan Waldron, Director of Research and Skills at the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), said:

NERC is committed to supporting researchers to address the causes behind the lack of diversity in the environmental sciences.

The investment in these innovative projects is crucial to ensuring that intervention to support change is based on evidence and is supported by the community.

Diverse collaborations

To ensure projects follow best practice and utilise knowledge and skills from those with specialism outside of environmental science, awardees are working with:

  • community groups
  • equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) practitioners
  • mentors
  • data specialists.

This is to better understand the unique challenges that can create barriers to participation.

Knowledge exchange

Following project completion later this year, award holders will be encouraged to share knowledge, good practice, and ideas for taking forward learnings.

Further, those involved in utilising digital technologies to open up environmental science will be encouraged to share their open-source solutions such as apps and software platforms online.

Further information

Funded projects

Evaluating diversity and inclusion within the (geochemistry) academic ladder (E-DIAL)

Led by: Dr Pallavi Anand (The Open University).

Supported by:

  • Professor Shonill Bhagwat (The Open University)
  • Dr Pieter Bots (University of Strathclyde)
  • Professor Bryne Ngwenya (University of Edinburgh)
  • Dr Amy Riches (University of Edinburgh)
  • Dr Jessica Gagnon (The University of Manchester)
  • Ms Anya Lawrence (The University of Birmingham)
  • Dr Susan Little (University College London)
  • Dr Elena Maters (University of Cambridge).

Walking the walk: co-producing approaches to diversifying participation in Earth and environmental science education and careers

Led by: Dr Marcus Badger (The Open University).

Supported by:

  • Professor Clare Warren (The Open University)
  • Professor Richard Holliman (The Open University)
  • Ms Janice Ansine (The Open University)
  • Dr Yoseph Araya (The Open University).

A virtual environmental geoscience experience

Led by: Dr Adam Booth (University of Leeds).

Supported by:

  • Dr Jacqueline Houghton (University of Leeds)
  • Mr Benjamin Craven (University of Leeds)
  • Dr Taija Torvela (University of Leeds)
  • Dr Roger Clark (University of Leeds)
  • Dr Christopher Green (University of Leeds)
  • Dr Jon Mound (University of Leeds).

Amplifying our students’ voice: the co-production of undergraduate field courses (residential and non-residential) to address EDI

Led by: Dr Jo Clarke and Dr Maria-Martina Quaggiotto (University of Stirling).

Supported by:

  • Dr Stella Mouroutsou (University of Stirling)
  • Dr Jennifer Dickie (University of Stirling)
  • Dr Christian Schroeder (University of Stirling)
  • Dr Dominic McCafferty (University of Glasgow).

Decolonising environmental sciences: an action research approach to develop practice-based guidance to support inclusive undergraduate and postgraduate teaching environments

Led by: Dr Hannah Davis (Newcastle University).

Supported by:

  • Dr Sharron Kuznesof (Newcastle University)
  • Professor Alison Shaw (Newcastle University)
  • Mrs Eleanor Farrington (Newcastle University)
  • Dr Amelia Magistrali (Newcastle University)

Building solid ground for racial diversity in geography, Earth & environmental sciences postgraduate research

Led by: Professor Natasha Dowey (Sheffield Hallam University).

Supported by:

  • Dr Rebecca Williams (University of Hull)
  • Dr Munira Raji (University of Hull)
  • Dr Sam Giles (University of Birmingham)
  • Anya Lawrence (University of Birmingham)
  • Professor Christopher Jackson (University of Manchester)
  • Dr Benjamin Fernando (University of Oxford).

Making environmental and health equal, diverse, and inclusive: reflections from a centre of environment and human health (REACH)

Led by: Professor Lora Fleming (University of Exeter).

Supported by:

  • Dr Musarrat Reza (University of Exeter)
  • Tinashe Verhaeghe (University of Exeter)
  • Rae Preston (University of Exeter)
  • Sabiha Allouche (University of Exeter)
  • Dr Barnett-Naghshineh (University of Exeter)
  • Dr Bethany Roberts (University of Exeter)
  • Dr Daniel Derbyshire (University of Exeter)
  • Dr Kath Maguire (University of Exeter)
  • Malcolm Richards (University of Exeter)
  • Riadh Ghemmour (University of Exeter)
  • Dr Sheray Warmington (independent consultant).

REDRESS: improving diversity and inclusiveness in the UK marine sciences

Led by: Professor Alex Ford (University of Portsmouth).

Supported by:

  • Dr Darren Mernagh (University of Portsmouth)
  • Dr Sarah Reynolds (University of Portsmouth)
  • Mr Rory Miles (University of Portsmouth)
  • Dr Yvonne Howard (University of Portsmouth).

GAIA (geoscience access, inclusion and attainment)

Led by: Dr Beth Fox (University of Huddersfield).

Supported by:

  • Dr Anna Davidson (University of Huddersfield)
  • Mrs Rukhsana Din (University of Huddersfield)
  • Dr Vicki Trowler (University of Huddersfield)
  • Ms Chidochemoyo Nyakonda (University of Huddersfield)
  • Ms Raphaella Ward (University of Huddersfield).

Enriching inclusivity in environmental sciences with virtual fieldtrips

Led by: Dr Matthew Genge (Imperial College London).

Supported by:

  • Dr Rebecca Bell (Imperial College London)
  • Dr Emma Passmore (Imperial College London)
  • Dr Mark Sutton (Imperial College London)
  • Dr Valentin Laurent (Imperial College London)
  • Ms Sophia Quazi (Imperial College London).

Co-creating solutions to overcome the barriers that exclude students of Bangladeshi heritage from studying environmental sciences

Led by: Dr Michelle Hale (University of Portsmouth).

Supported by:

  • Dr Mo Hoque (University of Portsmouth)
  • Dr Heather Rumble (University of Portsmouth)
  • Dr Robert Inkpen (University of Portsmouth)
  • Dr Bryony Whitmarsh (University of Portsmouth).

Increasing accessibility, diversity and inclusion in environmental science degree programmes

Led by: Dr Leanne Hepburn (University of Essex).

Supported by: Professor Alex Dumbrell (University of Essex).

Enabling equitable cultures of knowledge and practice in physical geography and environmental sciences

Led by: Dr Naomi Holmes (Sheffield Hallam University).

Supported by: Professor Nichola Thomas (University of Exeter).

High resolution 3D virtual geological outcrops, increasing accessibility to geological field skills

Funded through: EDI Digital Sprint.

Led by: Dr Anne Jay, Open University.

Supported by:

  • Dr Marcus Badger (Open University)
  • Dr Victoria Pearson (Open University).

A scientist just like me, portraits of scientists working in the environmental sciences

Led by:  Professor Dudley Shallcross (University of Bristol).

Supported by: Dr Anwar Khan (University of Bristol).

Using virtual fieldwork tools to support EDI initiatives by strengthening (not replacing) in-person fieldwork activities in the environmental sciences

Led by: Dr Derek McDougall (University of Worcester).

Supported by:

  • Dr Simon Hutchinson (University of Salford)
  • Dr Lynda Yorke (Bangor University).

Evaluating perceptions of job roles in marine research and raising awareness of digital twinning of the oceans to promote diversity and inclusivity in the marine sciences

Led by: Dr Anna McGregor (University of Glasgow).

Supported by:

  • Professor Carol Robinson (University of East Anglia)
  • Dr Gillian Damerell (University of East Anglia)
  • Dr Chelsey Baker (National Oceanography Centre)
  • Mr Ben Fisher (University of Edinburgh)
  • Dr Cecilia Liszka (British Antarctic Survey).

‘FindAScienceBerth’: connecting underrepresented groups in marine science with available berths on scientific research vessels

Funded through: EDI Digital Sprint.

Led by: Dr Anna McGregor, University of Glasgow.

Supported by:

  • Dr Katharine Hendry (University of Bristol)
  • Dr Katrien Van Landeghem (Bangor University)
  • Dr Alice Marzocchi (National Oceanography Centre)
  • Ben Fisher (University of Edinburgh)
  • Madeline Anderson (University of Southampton)
  • Dr Siddhi Joshi (Bangor University)
  • Katie Sieradzan (Bangor University)
  • Dr Sophie Fielding (British Antarctic Survey)
  • Dr Eleanor Darlington (National Marine Facilities).

Addressing overlooked risks faced by researchers from marginalised groups undertaking fieldwork and proposing evidence-based changes to institutional policies

Led by: Dr Zarah Pattison (Newcastle University).

Supported by:

  • Dr Louise Mair (Newcastle University)
  • Dr Tina Sikka (Newcastle University)
  • Professor Peter Hopkins (Newcastle University).

Understanding the lived experiences of neurodivergent early career scientists in order to create neurodivergent inclusive workplaces for environmental sciences

Led by: Professor Katherine Sang (Heriot Watt University).

Supported by:

  • Dr David Woolf (Heriot Watt University)
  • Professor Teresa Fernandes (Heriot Watt University)
  • Assistant Professor Clayton Magill (Heriot Watt University).


Funded through: EDI Digital Sprint.

Led by: Dr Rebecca Williams, University of Hull.

Supported by:

  • Dr Katherine Davies-Vollum (University of Derby)
  • Dr Brian Thomas (Newcastle University)
  • Dr Clare Bond (University of Aberdeen)
  • Edward Lewis (British Geological Survey)
  • Alice Butcher (The Natural History Museum)
  • Dr Murina Raji (University of Hull)
  • Dr Elliot Carter (Trinity College Dublin).

Challenging individuals, evolving teams and changing cultures to showcase environmental science research careers as open to all

Led by: Dr Kathrine Yates (University of Salford).

Supported by:

  • Dr Danielle Hinchcliffe (University of Salford)
  • Professor Angela Lee (University of Salford)
  • Dr Richard Armitage (University of Salford)
  • Dr Robert Jehle (University of Salford)
  • Dr Ursula Hurley (University of Salford)
  • Mr Luke Dudley (University of Salford)
  • Mrs Susan Clark (University of Salford)
  • Ms Tara Leach (University of Salford)
  • Dr Thomas Smyth (University of Huddersfield)
  • Dr Robert Allan (University of Huddersfield)
  • Dr Kathryn Arnold (University of York)
  • Dr Tamsyn Kiss (University of York)
  • Dr Marco Sakai (University of York).


Funded through: EDI Digital Sprint.

Led by: Dr Lynda Yorke, Bangor University.

Supported by:

  • Dr Simon Hutchinson (University of Salford)
  • Dr Elizabeth Hurrell (University of York).

Project descriptions

View the full project descriptions.

Top image:  Credit: FotografThomasOlsen, Getty Images

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