Black Lives Matter: a message written by the Physics Inclusion Working Group

The horrific killing of George Floyd, and the Black Lives Matter protests, have galvanised people worldwide to take an active stance against racism.  This naturally leads us to look critically at ourselves as individuals and as a Physics and Astronomy community. Objectively our Department is predominantly white, and in a University that continues to struggle with racism. It is key that we understand and acknowledge race privilege and use our individual and collective power to support BME staff and students in our community.

It is tempting to see a statement such as this, or a supportive tweet or Facebook message, as an end in itself. We must go beyond performative support. Even as this topic moves out of the news cycle, our Inclusion Group will continue to meet and work on these issues every day. We are taking actions at Departmental level, including increasing uptake of Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity (EDI) training for staff and students, unconscious bias training for staff, promoting inclusive social activities, and working to ensure our induction procedures highlight both our dignity and respect agenda and routes to report harassment and discrimination. We continue to work with the University’s EDI team and the BME Staff, Student and Allies Network and welcome input from the wider community.

We would encourage everyone to familiarise themselves with the University’s SpeakOut website. You can report anything from a microaggression to a hate crime, whether you’ve experienced it yourself or you are reporting as a 3rd party which enables the University to gather information which will better inform our inclusion work.

As members of the Physics Inclusion Working Group we are committed to making the Department of Physics and Astronomy a welcoming and inclusive place to work and study. We pledge to fight racism, and actively support our BAME staff and students, who continue to face, day-in and day-out, the challenges of racism. We will not stand by while members of our community suffer such discrimination. Our Working Group includes representatives from across our BAME, LGBTQ+, and neuro-diverse communities, spanning all career stages from undergraduate and postgraduate students to early career researchers and academic staff. We always welcome any new ideas, and new members who increase our diversity or bring new points of view.

We know that we make mistakes. We pledge to listen to, and learn from, our Black staff and students and we will do better. If you think you could make a contribution, then please contact Tim Harries (


Tim Harries, Chair and Head of Department

Claire Davies, LGBTQ+ and Early career researcher representative

Rachel Lennon, neurodiversity and postgraduate researcher representative

Adarsh Vasista, Postdoctoral researcher representative

Isabel Valdes, undergraduate representative

Jude Meakin, Biophysics group representative

Jenny Hatchell, Astrophysics group representative

Anja Roeding, Centre for Metamaterial Research and Innovation representative

Agnes Bacon, LGBTQ+ and postgraduate researcher representative

Tim Naylor, working group member

Clare Dobbs, Astrophysics group representative Laura Burn, undergraduate representative