I hope, like me, you have been able to take some time away from your ‘day jobs’ to recharge and refresh over the past couple of months. This year my family and I travelled to Croatia and Bosnia for our summer break – both very scenic and interesting locations – although cycling, as we were, in temperatures of 30-35OC did not feel particularly refreshing! During our trip we had an interesting visit to a local third-generation Bee keeperon the Croatian Island of Solta, whose enthusiasm and concern for the health of our pollinators knew no bounds. He was delighted to hear about the outcomes of the multidisciplinary Insect Pollinators Initiative that we supported, summarised in this recently published evaluation.

This week sees UKRI announce the appointment of their External Advisory Group for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI).It consists of 12 members spanning academia, the public and private sectors and demonstrates UKRI’s commitment to the EDI agenda. Professor Jennifer Rubin, ESRC Executive Chair and UKRI Executive Champion for EDI will chair the group, which will inform the creation of a long-term EDI strategy for UKRI that is ambitious, whilst being feasible and evidence-based. It will help UKRI to embed equality, diversity and inclusion at all levels and in everything that we do.

In relation to this EDI had a huge boost last week when Professor Jocelyn Bell Burnell announced that she was donating her Breakthrough prizemonies (of £2.3M) to support diversity in physics, specifically to enable more women, underrepresented minorities and refugees to become physics researchers. This was reported widely in scientific and broader news channels (for example, The Guardian, BBCandThe Globe and Mail) around the globe. Professor Bell Burnell was awarded the Breakthough prize ‘for fundamental contributions to the discovery of pulsars, and a lifetime of inspiring leadership in the scientific community’. I was fortunate enough to work with Jocelyn when she was Dean of the Faculty of Science at the University of Bath and personally benefitted from her leadership, support and encouragement when I myself was seeking to progress. I have huge admiration for Jocelyn, warmly congratulate her on this prize and on her choice to so visibly support diversity and inclusion in physics – a great role model.

Staying with the theme of Space – in its broadest sense – one of the more unusual projects in BBSRC’s portfolio has caught the imagination of the media this month. The Molecular Muscle Experiment,a collaboration between scientists at the Universities of Exeter, Nottingham and Lancaster, is due to reach a new milestone later this year with the launch of thousands of C. elegans worms into space. The research will see the worms living and reproducing on the International Space Station, in an effort to understand the molecular changes that occur during muscle wastage. The similarity between worms’ muscles and our own makes them a common model species for neuromuscular research and the loss of muscle during spaceflight is a major barrier for long-term missions, but is also a problem for those on earth afflicted with muscular dystrophies, diabetes, injuries and age-related declines in strength. This project is supported by The European Space Agency, UK Space Agency, BBSRC, MRC, and Arthritis Research UK and is a great example of national and international collaboration.

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