The Platelet Society Early Career Researcher Meeting (Virtual)

The Platelet Society Virtual Early Career Researcher Meeting

Thursday 3rd September

13:00 to 16:00 BST

Calling all early career researchers interested in platelets, bleeding disorders and novel ways to studying platelet function. The Platelet Society is hosting its first Virtual Symposium on the 3rd September. Registration is free and all ECRs are welcome to attend. We have 8 oral presentations alongside discussion and networking sessions.

Register nowhttps://bit.ly/ECR_2020

Meeting programmeVirtual ECR programme

Why not consider joining the Platelet Society? Membership is only £20 for the first year and is a great way to keep up to date with the latest platelet news and qualify for discounts on future society meetings. Join today: https://plateletsociety.co.uk/platelet-society-membership/    

This meeting is supported by:

British Heart Foundation; Sysmex; Labmedics; Chronolog; Gilead Sciences; NC3Rs; Cairn Research; Platelets Journal 

https://plateletsociety.co.uk/

Racism in Science: Where do we go from here?

By: Abdullah Khan, PhD

I think many of us are learning, whether for the first or the umpteenth time, just how difficult it is to have any sort of calm and productive dialogue about race and colour. For a lot of us, myself included, these are uncomfortable conversations to have. Even as a first generation Asian immigrant with less than the average allocation of limbs, being a minority and all that entails is a big task. 

Far more articulate and better qualified voices than mine are tackling the big issues on the global theatre, but I’d like to extend that conversation to some of my experiences within our own microcosm within academia. In many ways, the world of universities is still an antiquated and bloated remnant of an imperial and colonial past. This is not only evident in the curriculum of many universities, but in a faculty which remains largely exclusive to the archetypal white male. 

Of course, progress is being made. There is more dialogue and positive action than when I started my PhD 5 years ago, but to say that there are no rampant issues featuring an all-star cast of institutionalised misogyny, homo/transphobia, racism, and elitism is at best willfully ignorant. A quick Google will take you to plenty of resources which show just how much of a minority the minorities are in our world (please find said resources linked below). 

Examples of micro- (and macro)aggressions are not hard to find. It was not so long ago that a respected lecturer leaned over to me during a seminar in which a minority colleague was speaking to mock his accent. I couldn’t list the number of times a senior academic has said something to the effect of, ‘you know what that lot are like’. I once found a PhD student in a neighboring lab in tears because her supervisor had said to their whole group that she would be able to help them save grant money because of her race and ‘poor socio-economic background’. Another personal favourite quote of mine includes ‘the ridiculous feminisation of science’… it’s a list that goes on and on… and unfortunately for many of you reading this, the sentiments are sadly all too familiar. I have heard detestable sentiments and comments about race, disability, and gender – all from respected senior academics who will are often also guilty of a casual and childish dismissal of any and all efforts to address, or even discuss, these issues. 

I think you can tell by now that I am angry. For me, the anger comes from the fact that we should be better. I fully accept my own naïveté in saying this, but we should, as intelligent innovators on a lifelong pursuit of knowledge and understanding, be better than the world we find ourselves in. Despite this, the dialogue can quickly become toxic in the way it does everywhere else – particularly in certain circles where lip service is given to initiatives aiming to include and involve, while disparaging comments are quickly made once doors are closed.

Despite this I am hopeful for two reasons. One is that science is very much a ‘tribe’ in which we all have found kindred spirits willing to engage in a healthy dialogue. And that word is key: ‘dialogue’ is a two way street, not the tweeting of inflammatory comments and an unwillingness to adjust your position despite a barrage of evidence and reasoned argument. As the global conversation around race intensifies, we, as academics of all ages, races and colours need to be engaging in that dialogue within our own house. Why are women, LGBTQI+, and people of colour (most significantly Black minorities) still a frighteningly small portion of our communities? The answers will not be comfortable ones, but they are there, championed by people within those minorities but supported by the community as a whole. 

From my perspective, it is a huge comfort that the dialogue is being gamely taken up by people of all backgrounds. There are healthy and constructive discussions around what it is to be an ally, and people seem, to me at least, to be understanding that and responding to that concept. Funding streams to support diversity (a friend pointed out the Hanna H. Grey Fellows scheme as a good example) are an example of a tangible efforts, as is the increasing emphasis on mandatory unconscious bias training. There are many powerful voices who far more eloquently discuss the delicate subject of race in academia, and I point you in the direction of Dr Esther Odekunle (@science.uncovered), @BAMEedNetwork and #BlackintheIvory to name a few. 

Universities are an interesting microcosm of dualism and contradiction. On one hand rich in these historical cultural problems, and on the other breeding grounds for dissenting thought and activism. We are starting to see the consequences of the ‘conversation’ in campuses across the UK, where there is a steadily increasing emphasis on EDI (Equality Diversity and Inclusion) initiatives like Athena Swan and the Race Equality Charter. Prominent funders like the Wellcome Trust and journals like eLife provide resources and perspectives which appeal to the scientist in all of us, examples of which I’ve linked to below. 

I think I am mostly giving voice to a small part of that unhappy marriage of shapeless rage and helplessness that so many of us are feeling, confined to our homes. If nothing else, I hope this will encourage those of you who have not engaged in the conversation to do so, or to at least listen. I would like to emphasise that this isn’t an exercise in pointing fingers and extending blame – but in identifying where our institutions are failing and working towards redressing those imbalances.

We have a responsibility to do better therefore we should, and in moments of rare optimism, I think we will. 

Here are the aforementioned resources with numbers and more articulate and likeable authors: 

https://wellcome.ac.uk/reports/what-researchers-think-about-research-culture

https://elifesciences.org/inside-elife/313036d9/workforce-diversity-let-s-talk-about-race

https://academic.oup.com/bioscience/article/70/3/237/5714639

https://stemeducationjournal.springeropen.com/articles/10.1186/s40594-018-0115-6

https://science.sciencemag.org/content/333/6045/1015

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/university-black-minority-ethnic-pay-gap-academics-professors-ucu-staff-a9155451.html

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-46473269

https://theconversation.com/black-and-minority-ethnic-academics-less-likely-to-hold-top-jobs-at-uk-universities-125253

https://muse.jhu.edu/article/644644/pdf

#BloodandBone Social Hours- Spilling the Tea

From the outset, we have been amazed by the response to #BloodandBone and the number of people that have been tuning in for talks each day. The downside to this was that we had to opt for a webinar format, which meant that whilst the community was growing (713 members at last count), we were missing vital interactions that we’d get at conferences. That’s why we decided to instigate weekly social hours. These are good way to make connections with the #BloodandBone community and virtually meet new people.

How do they work? The simple answer is that they are just like a regular Zoom meeting but filled with people across the globe in different time zones.

What happens? There is no fixed agenda but normally we start talking about the seminar that has just happened/that weeks’ talks. We tend to check in and see how people are coping with he pandemic in their part of the world and go from there. You can bring along a drink of your choice (sorry we can’t provide this…). In recent weeks, we’ve been talking about jobs, arts & crafts, staycations and the resident ghosts in our homes.

When are they? The original happy hour is Fridays at 2Pm EST (7PM GMT) and to reach out to our friends in Asia & Australia on Wednesday’s 7am EST (12PM BST 9PM AEDT).

Who can join? Anyone and everyone can come along.

Do I have to talk? No, come along and experience it. There’s no hierarchy or expectations but everyone is super friendly.

Why should I join? It’s a great opportunity to talk to other scientists and build networks. Personally, I think it will help me to break the ice when I’m at that next science conference and I’m looking for a familiar face to talk to.

I know it can be daunting to sign in when you don’t know who is present but rest assured, you’ll be made to feel very welcome.

Join here: #BloodandBone Social Hour

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84128629225?pwd=ay81K3ZPWWxsSHByVTBubHJMMzFZQT09

Meeting ID: 841 2862 9225

Password: 2QVJXn

The Quarantine Chronicles – Published in the journal RPTH

In the midst of the chaos of the global pandemic, the online daily webinar series Blood and Bone was created. The series started with a blank schedule on a google doc and, with enthusiasm and participation from the hematopoiesis and hemostasis/thrombosis communities, was quickly filled through September 2020. In the absence of any editing of the speaker list, a diverse, well‐balanced, and scientifically exciting program emerged. The seminar is hosted on Zoom and live‐streamed on YouTube daily, and can accommodate up to 1000 attendees. Attendance has topped over 600 and averages 200‐300 people daily; this has been sustained for 7 weeks. In addition, there is a weekly Thursday trainee series that hosts 3, 20‐minute seminars. In this forum, we reflect on a series that allowed global scientists to come together to help shape chaos into an opportunity for community and growth.

Read the paper: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/rth2.12394