ABM CDT student projects commended by Making a Difference panel

Three ongoing equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) initiatives led by students in the Advanced Biomedical Materials (ABM) Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) have been recognised for their quality.

PhDiscuss, Social Calendar and VIP have each been commended by the panel of The University of Manchester's 2021 Making a Difference Awards.

The awards celebrate the outstanding achievements of those staff, students, alumni and external partners who are truly 'making a difference' - and the commendations demonstrate how ABM CDT students are fast becoming EDI trailblazers.


PhDiscuss is a series of open and informative webinars where students, academics and industry partners discuss challenging topics related to EDI within the research community, including matters such as mental health and representation.

The series aims to start a dialogue on subjects that are not widely talked about when doing a PhD, and represents a fantastic opportunity for students to hear new perspectives from people they would not usually meet - ultimately helping them become more rounded researchers.

It is a chance to build networks based not on academic achievement but on academic values, and gives people from minority backgrounds an opportunity to share their experiences, encouraging a greater understanding of what postgraduate life means for different people.

Social Calendar

To ensure people feel comfortable entering and contributing towards research, it is important to promote a culture of EDI. Bringing people together to discuss issues relating to EDI in academia could increase awareness, encourage debate, and enhance cohesion within a group.

Before 2020, EDI events and guest speakers might be found on campus, and on-campus social events gave people from diverse backgrounds the chance to meet up and share ideas. However, the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic has prevented normal social interaction and made organisation of in-person EDI events impossible. 

The ABM CDT asks that PhD candidates take proactive measures to encourage EDI, and has executed a project to address these issues: the Social Calendar. In it the CDT plans, coordinates and carries out various online events for all cohort members to participate in. These events aim to encourage socialising between CDT members, and provide opportunities to learn about EDI issues in research.


Very Important People (VIP) comprises a monthly series of visually-stimulating posters to be displayed in the Henry Royce Institute (HRI). The series focuses on individuals who are considered inspirational figures to members within the HRI, and the project aims to support EDI within the workplace and to highlight how the distinct personal and professional experiences of a diverse range of people have influenced them.

VIP aspires to boost morale by engaging directly with the HRI community. This is achieved using an email suggestion request process with feedback polls offering a method of tracking the impact of content, and ensuring it is kept updated.

Each poster focuses on one VIP accompanied by a short abstract detailing a brief synopsis of their career path and why they are considered an influential person by a member of staff or student. The series does not limit submissions to STEM fields, but rather casts a wider net to acknowledge the variance in what is deemed influential. Overall, VIP is an accessible and easily maintainable initiative to promote societal diversity within the University.

All staff and PGR students are invited to watch the Making a Difference Awards ceremony on Wednesday, 12 May at 6pm to 7.30pm, live from Manchester Museum.

The awards recognise and celebrate the social responsibility achievements of the University's staff, students, alumni and external partners. Register via Eventbrite.


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