Fostering an inclusive space for disabled researchers

In 2017, the Royal Society reported that disabled people are underrepresented in the UK workforce as a whole, and the same underrepresentation is observed in the scientific workforce. Equally, disabled scientists are less likely to hold senior roles within science.

We believe it is paramount to create a supportive, flexible, and understanding workplace for disabled researchers. To do this, we asked members of MCSB to discuss their experiences of disability in our institute.

One member suggested signposting ‘information on accessible working practices’ would be beneficial, alongside a targeted exploration of ‘accessible work solutions’. Another member added ‘We need reminding that not all disabilities are overtly apparent, and that some students/researchers might struggle with an environment that  many others would accept as totally benign.’

We are currently working to create a set of inclusive guidelines to enhance support of disabled researchers in molecular biology, supported by a grant from the Research and Innovation Unit. Dr. Emily May Armstrong is leading this initiative, please direct any emails or specific queries to

This initiative aims to:

  • Explore flexible and dynamic best-practice guidelines, which consider individual researcher needs: focusing on wet-laboratory and dry shared working spaces in molecular biology research.
  • Understand how physical laboratory organisation impacts safe working practice for disabled members.
  • Build an interactive information pack with video, slides, and posters outlining how create a universally inclusive molecular biology environment.
  • Promote an inclusive, welcoming, and person-centred work environment.
  • Create a URL based ‘decision tree’ to signpost pre-existing resources on a case-by-case basis, creating ‘personalised’ recommendations for each unique situation.
  • Train management in providing appropriate disability accommodations for students and staff.