2019 Inclusion & Diversity Prize Winner
Dr Jane Essex, University of Strathclyde
Awarded for a lifetime spent furthering the active engagement of everyone in science, regardless of their identity or individual circumstances, and maximising impact through work with teachers.
I was born and educated in Yorkshire, and it was at my secondary school that I acquired my passion for science. I was enthused by the Nuffield science courses and have always wanted to enable others to feel the sense of curiosity, wonder and delight that I did. A hugely influential part of my childhood was the birth of my sister, when I was 4. She had suffered brain injury at birth and has serious learning difficulties as a result. My mother's fight for her access to any form of education was the soundscape of my young life and has shaped much of my subsequent work. I remain a tiger sister!
I took a degree in Pharmacology and Toxicology (or, applied and analytical chemistry with some very lurid narrative, as it might have been better described!). Family needs took me back north and I took a PGCE in Chemistry in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. I loved teaching from my first day in the classroom! A series of jobs in Suffolk, East Yorkshire and Staffordshire followed, along with marriage and the birth of three sons. I marked the birth of the youngest by deciding to return to part-time study, for a Masters and then a doctoral degree. Recognising and countering the exclusion of certain learners has been a career long interest of mine, both in my own classroom and with the student teachers I work with.
The most recent chapter of my working and researching life has been in teacher education. I joined Keele University's Department of Education in 2002 and, at the same time, the RSC. The shift in role also enabled me to become a host for the Salters' Institute Festival of Chemistry host, and the format of the inclusive festivals was established at that time, in response to teacher input. I have subsequently run these whilst at Brunel University and, most, recently, at Strathclyde University.