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Equality and diversity

We currently hold a bronze Athena Swan Award.

The Department of Plant Sciences is proud to be a supportive environment, and is committed to ensuring all can reach their full potential, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, age, religious belief or disability.

Read the case studies illustrating how the Department’s activities have benefited careers.

The Department's Equality and Diversity Committee provide a focus for our efforts. We are working hard to support and recognise the achievements of both female and male staff, through adopting best practice in the workplace. The Committee has the following aims:

  1. To achieve greater awareness of equality and diversity issues within the Department.
  2. To take the lead role in implementing and monitoring the Athena Swan Action Plan.
  3. To prepare future Athena Swan Award submissions, including gathering and analysis of data.
  4. Disseminate good practice and information from the University’s Athena SWAN team.

The Committee is currently constituted as follows:

MemberRole and relevant experience
Mr Boris Bongalov Third year PhD student. Experience mentoring students from disadvantaged backgrounds to support applications to research-intensive universities.
Mrs Catherine Butler Department Administrator; parent of one, took one year of maternity leave, returned under flexible working arrangement. Advises staff on parental leave/flexible working.
Dr Nik Cunniffe Chair of E&DC; parent of three girls under six; progressed from PhD student to academic staff member within DoPS
Dr Jennifer Deegan 9 year post-doctoral career, now stay-at-home parent to one son. Research working from home funded partly by University equipment grant.
Mrs Sally Hames Administrator; parent of 3 children overseeing group with members with young children and flexible working. University Dignity@Work contact (3 years)
Mr Del Hawtin Finance manager, parent of one, and working 9 day fortnight under flexible working agreement.
Ms Sarah Mitchell First year PhD student. Active member of several groups encouraging women, LGBTQ, and ethnic minorities to pursue STEM studies/careers.
Dr Jessica Royles PDRA; parent to a two year old. Part-time (3 days/week) under flexible working following return from maternity leave.
Professor Alison Smith Head of Department; 2 adult children and responsible for elderly mother in Cambridge; progressed from fixed-term teaching position to Professor.
Dr Stephanie Swarbreck Parent of 4 year-old girl; 6 months off for maternity leave; worked part time for 18 months; postdoctoral research fellow
Dr Gita Yadav DoPS Indo-UK Lecturer. Hindu. Parent of two children under 7. Allowed flexible travel to meet inter-continental family commitments.
Professor Howard Griffiths Howard has a longstanding track record in supervising PhD students from developing countries, and as Co-Chair of the Global Food Security IRC has established major programmes funded by Newton Bhabha and GCRF to advance training opportunities for female scientists and farmers in India.


We publicise our activity via a regular item in the Departmental newsletter and a dedicated notice board near the tea room.

Members of the Department should feel free to contact us about any issues - or suggestions - on , or by contacting any member of the committee individually.

Useful links: