Prof. Sara Rankin from Imperial College London delivered a lecture on ‘Why higher education needs to increase awareness of neurodiversity’ on 20 March 2019. This was hosted by the Biology Equality and Diversity committee, and organised by postgraduate student member Jessica Haghkerdar.
Prof. Sara Rankin is a Professor of Leukocyte and Stem Cell Biology at Imperial College London. She is a world leader in the field of regenerative pharmacology- inventing drugs to help the body repair itself after injury. She is lead for Athena for the National Heart and Lung Institute and chairs the Faculty of Medicine’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion committee. In 2016 she was awarded the Imperial College Medal for outstanding service to the College and innovation in research and public engagement.
Prof Sara Rankin is dyslexic and dyspraxic and in recent years has been working on a project, 2eMPower, to make STEM education (in schools and HE) accessible for students with specific learning disabilities (dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD and autism). She trained as a dyslexia champion (accredited by the British Dyslexia Association) and in this role considers how employers and managers can create a working environment that supports neurodiverse staff and gets the best out of them.
The lecture explained the strengths and weaknesses associated with being neurodiverse and how this affects student learning and staff in the workplace. She described why she thinks being dyslexic makes her an excellent scientist and how businesses are now recognising the value of neurodiversity in the workplace. She discussed her experiences of establishing 2eMPOwerUK to develop and deliver STEM outreach programmes for high ability students with learning differences and how she is making teaching at Imperial accessible to all students.
The lecture can be viewed in full here.