BBSRC Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Expert Advisory Group

What is the EDI Expert Advisory Group (EAG)?

The purpose of the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Expert Advisory Group is to provide expert external advice and guidance to BBSRC on its approach to improving EDI in the bioscience research and innovation community. This group was established in January 2022 and was approved for continuation by People and Talent Strategy Advisory Panel in January 2023.

The BBSRC EDI Advisory Group consists of 12 members.

Across the membership of the EDI EAG, the following knowledge, expertise and skills is represented:

  • demonstrable understanding and interest in EDI or research culture issues, including one or more of the following:
    • knowledge of EDI challenges across the research and innovation community and how this relates to BBSRC’s role in improving EDI in the biosciences
    • knowledge of EDI challenges within a particular region, sector (for example, academia, industry or other research institute), or research area (for example, one of BBSRC’s strategic research priority areas)
    • knowledge of EDI challenges for a particular career stage (for example, postgraduate students, early career researchers or research leaders)
  • in-depth knowledge of UKRI-BBSRC systems, processes or strategic development (for example, through participation in a BBSRC panel or committee)

What does the EDI EAG do?

The EDI EAG provides external oversight of BBSRC’s EDI workplan in the context of the UKRI EDI strategy and BBSRC strategic delivery plan, including:

  • acting as a ‘critical friend’ in challenging BBSRC’s work
  • acting as advocates for EDI in the biosciences and for BBSRC work in this area
  • ensuring that BBSRC activities align with UKRI and BBSRC priorities in this area and support a balanced portfolio of activities which have the greatest impact for the BBSRC community
  • identify and prioritise the key EDI issues in the biosciences and provide advice on what BBSRC could do to help address these challenges in the short and longer terms
  • provide oversight on BBSRC’s EDI evidence base to identify areas for intervention or further investigation, to include for example:
    • advising on ongoing or future evidence requirements
    • identifying any specific EDI issues that have arisen as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, and how these could be resolved in the short and longer terms
    • advising on the role of existing BBSRC investment mechanisms in improving EDI or gathering evidence, for example; fellowships, studentships, new researchers, strategic longer and larger grants, institute strategic programmes, and others

Our members

Learn more about our equality, diversity and inclusion external advisory group members:

Professor Candy Rowe

Professor Candy RoweCandy’s main research interests lie in understanding ‘what makes animals tick’, and particularly how they learn about food and decide what to eat, and as importantly, what not to eat. Candy discovers these decision-making processes through observing animal behaviour, as well as applying what she knows to more pressing issues such as improving animal welfare.

These interests sit Candy firmly within the BBSRC remit. Over the years she has been part of a number of panels that have helped BBSRC evaluate their doctoral training partnerships, fellowships and grants.

However, Candy is just as passionate about the people who do research as the research itself. She believes equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) is important for ensuring that everyone enjoys the research they do and reaches their full potential.

At Newcastle University where Candy is based, she has spent the last eight years dedicating two days a week to leadership roles in this area, sometimes calling herself a ‘part-time researcher’!

Candy was initially Director of EDI in her Faculty (2015 to 2018) where she led their first faculty-wide Silver Athena SWAN application. Candy then took on being the Director of their new university fellowship (NUAcT) scheme (2018 to 2020) and is currently the university’s first Dean of Research Culture and Strategy. This is a particularly exciting role, where one of the priorities for this year is building safe and inclusive research environments.

Candy works across a broad range of projects, including building an EDI Toolkit for leaders in research, tackling inappropriate behaviours, and inclusivity in research funding through co-chairing our Race Equality Charter Research Workstream.

Candy says: “Being part of the EAG allows me to share some of my experiences with BBSRC to help shape what they do, learn from others’ perspectives about some of the challenges we face, and hopefully make a difference in the funding landscape.”

Professor Anastasia Callaghan

Professor Anastasia CallaghanAnastasia Callaghan is Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics at the University of Portsmouth and Director of a biotechnology spin-out.

With a scientific focus on molecular interactions involving RNA, Anastasia’s track record spans basic research through to commercialisation, and the success of her journey was highlighted in BBSRC’s Impact Showcase 2022.

Anastasia’s research leadership encompasses significant contributions across a number of UKRI committees and panels. This includes chairing roles, and at the University of Portsmouth as co-founder of a current Research Centre and former Research Institute Director.

Anastasia is passionate about supporting equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) and building a positive research culture where researchers can develop and excel. Her insights today build on activities earlier in her career, including setting up the University of Portsmouth’s Researcher-Development Programme and Researcher Forum, while at a national level she contributed to assessment of the HR Excellence in Research Awards and supported the development of the Vitae researcher training programme.

Anastasia is presently an EDI champion at the University of Portsmouth and recently led her department’s successful Athena Swan Bronze submission.

Professor Gail Preston

Professor Gail PrestonProfessor Gail Preston leads a research group that studies bacterial plant diseases at the University of Oxford and is the Director of the BBSRC-funded Oxford Interdisciplinary Bioscience Doctoral Training Partnership. She is also the Deputy Director of the MPLS Doctoral Training Centre, with more than 12 years of experience as a doctoral programme director.

She has also served as a core member of BBSRC Committee B and on other BBSRC panels. Professor Preston has been directly involved in promoting equality, equity, diversity and inclusion (EEDI) throughout her career. She has been involved in establishing the UNIQ+ graduate access programme at the University of Oxford, for which she currently chairs the management committee. UNIQ+ aims to provide research experience and provide support in applying for graduate study to students from socioeconomic backgrounds that are under-represented in postgraduate research.

She is also involved in ongoing work to develop measures to reduce bias in doctoral admissions processes and to provide support for doctoral students from under-represented backgrounds during their studies. She is currently coordinating a project to understand the lived experience of disabled doctoral students in the life sciences. As a board member of the British Society of Plant Pathology she chairs the EEDI committee and works with the board to ensure that the society’s activities and events support diversity and inclusion in plant pathology.

Dr Jenny Pople

Dr Jenny PopleJenny Pople is a senior industrial research scientist at Unilever research and development with 19 years’ experience in the beauty and personal care sector, with specialist expertise in human biology and skin science. She has been industrial co-supervisor for BBSRC Industrial Cooperative Awards in Science and Technology (CASE) PhD studentships since 2015 with several UK academic partners.

Jenny has a passionate for equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) with specific interest and expertise in disability inclusion.

She is a member of the Unilever UK network for employees with disabilities and allies, supporting the business inclusion strategy in areas such as policies and processes, recruitment and talent development, awareness activities and training. Jenny continues to build her expertise via connections with external partners including the Business disability forum.

Professor Jon Lane

Professor Jon LaneJon Lane is a Professor of Cell Biology in the School of Biochemistry at the University of Bristol.

His research interests centre on autophagy control in health and disease, with a focus on neurodegeneration and neuroinflammation. He is currently the Director of the BBSRC-funded SWBio Doctoral Training Programme, a large PhD training programme based in the Southwest of England and South Wales.

In this role, and in previous School roles including Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Action Group Chair and SWAN Lead, Jon is a passionate advocate of equality and diversity in biomedical research training.

Jon also spent a several years working in undergraduate student recruitment and admissions. Here, he helped develop and implement innovative widening-participation schemes to increase access to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics subjects at research-intensive universities.

Professor Karen Halliday

Professor Karen HallidayKaren Halliday is Chair of Systems Physiology at the University of Edinburgh.

She studies systems approaches to biological problems and conducts cross-disciplinary research spanning molecular-genetics, mathematics, computational science, the humanities and social sciences.

She has directed large, multifaceted cross-disciplinary projects, published widely in her primary research area of plant photobiology, and with social scientists on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics  diversity and inclusion.

Karen has longstanding (12 plus years) involvement in equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) innovation within her own institution and the wider community. In 2020, Karen became College Dean Systematic Inclusion, with oversight of EDI vision and strategy for the College of Science and Engineering. Drawing on her experience as co-founder of the EPSRC Inclusion Matter project, ‘evidenceBase’, she employs holistic, evidential, system-grounded approaches, aimed at eliciting organisation-level interventions at scale.

Karen’s community facing work includes:

  • membership of the Hong Kong REF Panel for Biology (2013 to 2018)
  • founding Director of the Edinburgh Plant Science consortium in 2015
  • member of the BBSRC Institute Assessment Exercise panel
  • BBSRC Future Ways of Working Group and
  • BBSRC EDI Expert Advisory Group
  • Executive Board member of the Scottish Consortium for Rural Research
  • Scientific Advisor to the Scottish Government Plant Health Centre

Professor Malcom Skingle

Professor Malcom SkingleMalcolm Skingle has a BSc in Pharmacology/Biochemistry and a PhD in Neuropharmacology.

He has worked in the pharmaceutical industry for all of his working life and has gained a wide breadth of experience in the management of research activities. Part of his former role as a research leader in a Neuropharmacology department involved co-supervising collaborations with academics in the UK, Europe and US.

He has more than 70 publications including articles on the interface between industry and academia.

In his role as Academic Liaison Director at GSK he manages a team in Stevenage and Philadelphia.  His role involves close liaison with several groups outside the Company for example:

  • government departments
  • research and funding councils
  • small biotechnology companies
  • other science-driven organisations

He sits on many external bodies including:

  • BBSRC Council
  • UK Research and Innovation Infrastructure Advisory Committee
  • Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851
  • Exeter University Council
  • several UK University Department advisory groups

He also chairs several groups including:

  • the Science and Industry Partnership
  • the Diamond (Synchrotron) Industrial Advisory Board
  • the NC3Rs Crack-It panel and the ABPI group working on academic liaison

Malcolm has also been awarded a CBE in the 2009 Queen’s Birthday Honours List in recognition of his contribution to the pharmaceutical industry. Plus an Honorary Professorship from the College of Medical and Dental Sciences at the University of Birmingham. He has also been awarded honorary DSc degrees from the universities of Hertfordshire, Dundee and Brunel.

He is also an honorary fellow of the British Pharmacological Society and a fellow of the Faculty of Medicine at Imperial College.

Dr Matthew Ryan

Dr Matthew RyanMatthew Ryan is Research Lead of Biological Resources at CABI and project manager of the BBSRC-funded UK Crop Microbiome Biobank.

He is a microbiologist and former Curator of CABI Genetic Resources Collection of 30,000 living fungi and bacteria.

As a wheelchair user, Matthew has first-hand experience of the challenges that researchers at all stages of their careers face. From physical barriers such as inaccessible laboratories through to difficulties in attending conferences and delays in career progression. However, with the right support mechanisms, those with disabilities can not only achieve their career aspirations, but their experiences can really provide a vital contribution to the institutions which employ them.

Matthew is keen to ensure that through his involvement with the BBSRC equality, diversity and inclusion expert group that there is a level playing field for all.

Professor Paula Booth

Professor Paula BoothPaula Booth is currently Daniell Professor of Chemistry and Co-Director of the Centre for Physical Science of Life at King’s College, London, UK.

She is also a Senior Group Leader of a Satellite Laboratory at the Francis Crick Institute.

As inaugural Head of the new Chemistry Department at King’s, Paula led the renaissance of the discipline at the university.

Paula has long been an advocate of a more inclusive, equitable and collegiate approach to research and academia and embedded cultural change in the new Chemistry Department.

She has extensive mentoring experience and has been involved in many equality, diversity and inclusion initiatives, including:

  • the inaugural Athena Swan Implementation Group of Bristol University#
  • formulating policy, for example:
    • as part of Bristol’s Individual Circumstances group for the national Research Assessment Exercise
    • an international Transforming Women’s Leadership Pathways Group

She currently sits on King’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Panel and has further experience through roles in adult literacy and numeracy and with the Open University.

Paula leads a very active, interdisciplinary research group working at the interface between Chemistry and Life Sciences and she has previously held faculty positions at University of Oxford, Imperial College London and Bristol in Biochemistry.

Her research addresses the biosynthetic folding of integral membrane proteins, studying reaction mechanisms, regulation by membrane lipids and constructing biomembranes for Synthetic Biology applications.

Her innovative research has been recognised with various awards including a Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award and Philip Leverhulme Prize, and her funding includes:

  • a Wellcome Trust Investigator Award
  • ERC Advanced Grant
  • EPSRC-NFS award
  • BBSRC-EPSRC Synthetic Biology Centre funding
  • grants from BBSRC, EPSRC and the Leverhulme Trust

Paula has extensive experience at executive and advisory level, for example serving on:

  • EPSRC Strategic Advisory Network
  • BBSRC Appointments Board together
  • UK Biochemical Society
  • US Protein Society
  • University of Bristol Councils
  • several scientific advisory boards including chairing the Rosalind Franklin Next Generation Chemistry Board

She was a REF2021 panel member and has sat on many funding panels including BBSRC, EPSRC, ERC and The Wellcome Trust.

Dr QueeLim Ch’ng

Dr QueeLim Ch’ngQueeLim Ch’ng is a Reader of Systems Biology and Neuroscience in the Centre for Developmental Neurobiology at King’s College London.

He grew up in Singapore and undertook higher education in the US, gaining a bachelor’s degree from Princeton University and a PhD from University of California San Francisco under the mentorship of Cynthia Kenyon.

He next performed postdoctoral research with Josh Kaplan at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

QueeLim’s laboratory investigates information processing in neuroendocrine networks that link environmental cues to organismal physiology. These interdisciplinary studies combine experimental and computational approaches to address mechanistic questions about multineuron gene networks encode environmental cues to orchestrate physiological processes such as development and ageing.

Besides teaching students from BSc to PhD, QueeLim is also involved in the management of the London Interdisciplinary Doctoral Training Partnership (LIDo), a BBSRC-funded PhD programme involving eight London Universities.

Within LIDo, he has applied his expertise in multidimensional data analysis to monitor diversity in the admission process and established collaborations with other groups keen on enhancing equality, diversity and inclusion across the talent pipeline.

Professor Raheela N Khan

Professor Raheela N KhanRaheela N Khan is a Professor of Cellular Physiology at the University of Nottingham and heads a research team studying the physiology and pathophysiology of pregnancy and cancer.

Her group utilise a range of techniques including electrophysiology, metabolomics and imaging and she has cultivated strong links with the NHS for research.

Raheela is:

  • a former Trustee of the Physiological Society (with a remit for diversity and inclusion)
  • a member of BBSRC and the Wellbeing of Women funding panels
  • Athena SWAN lead for the School of Medicine
  • a member of the Research Excellence Framework 2021 Equality and Diversity Advisory Panel (EDAP).

Until recently, she was an appointed Governor of a Hospital Foundation Trust.

Raheela continues to be involved with recruitment, interviews and appointments for research students and fellowships and actively supports career development for technicians.

She leads on teaching for two undergraduate modules and is proactive in the training and mentoring needs of junior scientists. The intersection of her research and teaching activities drives her enthusiasm for fairness, respect, objectivity and integrity, in creating and maintaining a supportive environment and culture.

Raheela has contributed to public engagement through research spotlight events, Pint of Science, open days for research participants and hosting vacation and visiting students in her lab to promote science as a career.

Professor Narender Ramnani

Professor Narender RamnaniNarender Ramnani is Professor of Neuroscience at Royal Holloway, University of London.

He has a PhD in Behavioural Neuroscience (University College London) and postdoctoral experience in brain imaging (University College London, University of Oxford).

His research programme, regularly supported by BBSRC responsive mode grants, focuses on the anatomical organisation of the human brain and brain mechanisms that support learning and decision-making in the human brain.

He served on BBSRC Committee A for some years. He has a special interest in promoting equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in science and academia.

At Royal Holloway University of London he has served as Chair of his Departments Athena SWAN Self-Assessment Team which won a Silver Award in 2016.

He currently serves as a member of the Royal Holloway Race Equality Charter Self-Assessment Team, with a decade of continuous experience in this role.

He also serves as Director of EDI for the School of Life Sciences and the Environment, and from April 2023 will be Vice Dean for EDI in the School.

Nationally, he has worked with UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) data to uncover a severe lack of diversity and inclusion in UKRI research council decision-making structures. This evidence was submitted to the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee inquiry into Diversity in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, and discussed with him and UKRI CEO in evidence sessions.

Professor Ramnani’s governance experience includes membership of the Governance Committee that oversees Advance Higher Education’s national Race Equality Charter.

He was also elected to the Council of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee APPG. He has also been elected and coopted to the governing body of the British Neuroscience Association (BNA) on multiple occasions, in various roles including:

  • Trustee for Research Policy
  • the British Neuroscience Association EDI Steering Group

His continuous service over more than 17 years was recently marked with an award of lifetime honorary membership.

He was recently invited to serve as an Advisor to the ALBA Network, helping this group to fulfil its mission to promote diversity and inclusion in neuroscience internationally, and he chairs their Data Working Group.


In 2022, the group conducted two panel meetings and two additional focused workshops. Please see further details of each meeting below.

March 2022

This was the first EDI EAG meeting. The EDI EAG were informed of the UKRI EDI strategy and were given the opportunity to provide feedback for the open consultation on this.

The EAG were also given the opportunity to comment and advise on the content and prioritisation of the BBSRC EDI workplan. They also provided comments on the key issues identified within a series of data reports, with the potential to address these in greater detail in future meetings. Finally, the EAG agreed the terms of reference and considered appropriate future ways of working. As a result of this discussion, it was decided the EAG would attend focus groups between EAG meetings where necessary.

October 2022

The key discussions from this meeting were:

  • updates from UKRI and an update on the BBSRC EDI workplan
  • updates from the workshop focused on under-representation of ethnic minority researchers that took place in August 2022
  • discussion on BBSRC’s role in using EDI targets and benchmarks
  • discussion on BBSRC’s role in facilitating the sharing of best EDI practice
  • discussion on addressing under-representation of disabled researchers

Workshop May 2022

This was a workshop to introduce the EAG to the UKRI equality diversity and inclusion strategy and provide the group with the opportunity to contribute to the community consultation. The group also discussed the content and priorities within the BBSRC EDI workplan.

Workshop August 2022

Ethnic diversity was identified as a specific area of concern in the March EDI EAG meeting. The objective of this workshop was to develop recommendations to put forward to the BBSRC senior leadership team.

Contact us

Emily Finnegan


Last updated: 27 April 2023

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