PhD student awarded grant to fund project looking at the significant loss of Black individuals in Chemistry after graduate level

Naomi Howard

Loughborough Chemistry researcher Naomi Howard has been awarded a grant from the Royal Society of Chemistry’s (RSC) Inclusion and Diversity Fund to conduct an 18-month project to investigate why there is such a small number of Black individuals in the field of chemistry after undergraduate level.

Naomi Howard

Currently in the UK approximately 5% of the Chemistry undergraduate community is Black, with this dropping to 1% at postgraduate level.

These findings from the RSC inspired Naomi’s project, which she is working on with her brother, Daniel Howard, who studies Biochemistry at Swansea University. Their aim is to establish a diverse and inclusive environment for early career scientists.

They will conduct specific research to provide targeted advice and guidance for undergraduates, postgraduates, academics and employers on how to overcome hurdles and create a welcoming and inclusive space.

Naomi’s is one of 49 community-driven projects being funded by the Royal Society of Chemistry this year. Fifteen of these, including Naomi’s, are in response to a special call-out for applications that can help break down the barriers faced by Black chemists.

The project was launched in early January with a presentation via MS Teams, with contributions from the RSC and colleagues at Loughborough.

Naomi commented: “The 'leaky pipeline' that is resulting in underrepresentation in our field presents a serious issue. Ensuring fair access to education and successful career progression for all minorities is essential and is beneficial for society as a whole. It's wonderful to see this issue being taken seriously by such big associations such as the RSC, and we're really excited to get going.”