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The Museum's senior curator in charge of birds, Dr Alex Bond, has won the Royal Society Athena Prize for his work advancing diversity in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).
Alex is an ecologist and conservation biologist who studies wildlife that live on islands and in the sea. He is particularly interested in seabirds as well as invasive, globally threatened or extinct species.
His recent work has examined how plastic pollution in the ocean is impacting the lives of seabirds.
Outside of research, Alex has worked hard to champion diversity in the sector, especially the LGBTQ+ community.
Beyond his work at the Museum, Alex helped to set up the LGBTQ+ STEM initiative, a project that boosts the visibility of, and created a network for, LGBTQ+ people working in STEM fields.
Alex also offers tailored seminars for peers that discuss challenges faced by the LGBTQ+ community in science. Titled: Hidden Diversity in Science: Queer in STEM, the seminars share steps that can be taken to provide a more welcoming workplace for the LGBTQ+ community.
Alex says, 'LGBTQ+ employees are often subject to discrimination and unwelcoming work environments. To combat this, we have empowered individual STEM professionals by giving them the resources to improve diversity and inclusion at their own institutions, whilst giving them confidence to be their full selves professionally.'
The Royal Society is an organisation that was founded in the seventeenth century. It aims to recognise, promote and support excellence in science, and to encourage the use of science for the benefit of humanity.
The Royal Society Athena Prize is a biannual award that was established in 2016. Its purpose is to celebrate teams which have contributed to increasing diversity in STEM, including those supporting women, minority groups and those with disabilities.
The award brings recognition to the tasks undertaken in making a workspace a better environment for a diverse group of people and encourages others to do the same. The winners also receive a medal and a monetary prize.
This year's prize was collected by Alex and his colleague Dr Beth Montague-Hellen, a senior research librarian at the University of Nottingham, for developing the LGBTQ+ STEM initiative.
STEM careers can still come with many barriers for members of LGBTQ+ communities. However, scientific innovation can come from anywhere and the best way to make it happen is to allow people from all walks of life to enter the profession.
The Royal Society website says, 'A diverse and inclusive scientific workforce draws from the widest range of backgrounds, perspectives and experiences thereby maximising innovation and creativity in science for the benefit of humanity.'