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Women in Science project welcomes Brazilian researchers to King's

Colleagues from two universities in Porto Alegre visited King’s as part of Women in Science project, which seeks to encourage women and girls to pursue a career in science in science

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King’s College London recently welcomed university colleagues from Brazil to learn more about King’s and its ongoing drive towards increasing female researchers in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). The visit was one of several activities which have taken place over the last year as part of the Women in Science project, a British Council funded initiative.

The gender gap in science is a global issue, with women accounting for a minority of the world’s researchers, and projects such as Women in Science are crucial to transform patterns of influence and strengthen leadership and gender schemes in the exact sciences. The project brings together King's College London, Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do Sul (PUCRS) and Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS) to encourage women and girls to pursue a career in science.  Among its initiatives are mentoring activities, events and development opportunities.

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On their visit to King’s campuses in October, PUCRS and UFGRS colleagues and students met with staff and researchers at King’s including a mentor & mentees lunch. Professor Abigail Tucker and Professor Andrea Streit from the Faculty of Dentistry, Oral & Craniofacial Sciences were their local hosts and have been key coordinators of the project throughout.

It was fantastic to see so much enthusiasm and engagement from our Brazilian partners and participants and from the many King’s volunteers to share experiences and to find new ways of promoting women in STEM. For me, the highlight was the Brazilian team’s visit here at King’s - meeting the students, seeing how they made new connections and how such an exchange can open up new possibilities was wonderful. They will share their experiences with their fellow students in Brazil - if we managed to make a difference, even for only a few, it was worth the entire project.– Professor Andrea Streit, Head of Centre for Craniofacial & Regenerative Biology
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This most recent trip was among the highlights of the Women in Science project, which included a number of activities such as talks, virtual and in-person mentoring sessions, online events and movie nights featuring successful women in STEM. The project, which launched earlier this year in January, seeks to strengthen connections with women in science in Brazil and the UK at both individual and institutional levels, as well as to share good practice to promote gender equality and learn from each others’ experiences.

As part of their visit, PUCR and UFGRS colleagues went to see Rosalind Franklin's original cabinets including a display of the structure of DNA, which are now housed at the Guy's Life Sciences Museum. They also visited the Natural History Museum where they were hosted by Professor Zerina Johanson, Dr Emma Bernard and Dr Simon Loader, and received a behind-the-scenes tour of the museum, including seeing specimens that are not on public display such as original samples collected by Darwin.

My highlight was meeting all the Brazilian mentees in Porto Alegre in person, after a series of virtual meetings, and finding how the programme had influenced their thoughts about careers for women in STEM. A huge thanks to our Brazilian partners for making the project run so effectively and smoothly, with particular thanks to Dr Juliane Minotto, Prof Poli Figueiredo (UFRGS), and Prof Fernanda Morrone and Mariana Haupenthal (PUCRS).– Professor Abigail Tucker, Dean for Research

The trip was organised by Professors Tucker and Streit. Particular thanks goes to the London mentees: Chantelle Spiteri & Tamara Fawzi, PhD students in the Centre for Craniofacial and Regenerative Biology, Dr Ailin Buzzi & Dr Laura Peralta Pereira from King's College London, and UCL colleagues Dr Tathyane Teshima & Dr Grace Lu, who helped throughout the programme.

Thanks also to Dr Dani Whittaker (MRC Clinical Scientist Fellow in the Centre for Craniofacial and Regenerative Biology), Dr Janina Muench (Francis Crick Institute), and Professor Fiona Mathews (University of Sussex) for creating videos to accompany the movies nights and sharing their thoughts on the life of the featured women scientists.

King’s staff from across the university who also kindly gave time and space during the visit to reflect on best practice, opportunities and the challenges of increasing representation of women in science included: Professor Jennifer Gallagher, Dr Maisa Seppala, Sophie Rust, Dr Arthur Galamba, Professor Khuloud Al-Jamal, Professor Michael Kölling, Dr Jessica Hamer, Dr Ken Bruce, Professor Mairi Sakellariadou, Dr Alexander Franklin, Dr Ashish Patel, Dr Tomas Maltby, Dr Grazia Todeschini and Dr James Garnett.

For more information about the Women in Science project, please visit their website here.

In this story

Abigail  Tucker

Abigail Tucker

Dean for Research

Andrea Streit

Andrea Streit

Head of Centre for Craniofacial & Regenerative Biology