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Yusuf Hamied Department of Chemistry

Tomi Akingbade talks at the BWIS brunch event

Tomi Akingbade talks at the BWIS brunch event courtesy Nathan Pitt ©University of Cambridge

For the second year running, the department hosted the Black Women in Science Network’s Brunch Talks LIVE!

Oluwatomi Akingbade founded the Black Women in Science Network (BWiS) in 2018 when she was still an undergraduate at the University of Nottingham, to give black women in science a platform to meet and share their experiences.  

Tomi, who is now a third-year PhD student in the Klenerman group, studies aggregates that cause inflammation and degeneration in the brain which could underlie Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.

“I’ve always loved science, and creating BWiS was a way for me to feel confident in my right to take up space in science. Our live brunch talks are a physical space where we can recharge and connect with people who have had a similar path.”

It was great to see so many new faces this year, and I’m grateful to
the Department of Chemistry who gave us this space to gather, recharge and reignite our joint passion for science.”
Over 40 women from many different scientific fields attended the event, which was held this year in the Cybercafé. Amen Eghosa-Aimufua, BWiS Events Officer and final year trainee Clinical Psychologist says: “This was my first time supporting the network to host Brunch Talks LIVE!, and it was such a joy to be a part of it.”

Sharing experiences

Dr Tamara Mulenga Willows courtesy Nathan Pitt ©University of Cambridge

A highlight of the brunch was the keynote speech delivered by Dr Tamara Mulenga Willows, a medical doctor and academic fellow at Queen Mary University of London, who talked about the challenges and triumphs of her research on avoiding preventable deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic. She also shared more personal insights on overcoming imposter syndrome and navigating the intricacies of academia, which resonated with the audience.

In addition to the delicious food, there were lots of opportunities to network and share experiences. “I was grateful to see so many black women connecting over shared interests and experiences, whilst thoroughly enjoying themselves!” says Amen.

“We couldn’t do this without the support of our members and sponsors the Department of Chemistry, the Academy of Medical Sciences and the Royal Society of Chemistry. We absolutely encourage such institutions to seek out and support the curation of similar events.”   

A crucial role

“These events play a crucial role in rejuvenating black women in the scientific field and offering respite from the burnout often induced by academic, professional and socio-cultural pressures.”

Deputy Head of Department Dr Nick Bampos says: “After the excellent event last year we were keen to help Tomi hold another networking event in the department and to support the excellent work she does to encourage, inspire and support a generation of young black women scientists.”

The Black Women in Science Network serves as a testament to the importance of creating spaces where black women in science can thrive and succeed. To find out more, visit Membership is free. 


This article first appeared in Chem@Cam magazine Spring 2024 Issue 68 pg 20.