When delivering research lectures, or outreach talks to school students, I always talk about the inspiration behind our research. Much of our research addresses applications connected with my husband’s illness (cystic fibrosis followed by a lung transplant). We have been investigating gene delivery as a potential treatment for CF, new drugs for intervention during major surgery, and gels to direct and control tissue growth with a long term view towards growing replacement organs. By explaining our science within this context, the audience are engaged within my personal story, and I can instantly bring my ‘whole self’ into a room full of strangers. I have watched this approach have a remarkable impact on audiences and believe it is a hugely powerful means of LGBT+ advocacy. Furthermore, this approach to science has inspired both me and my team to do better research.
Within my own department I have advocated for LGBT+ students experiencing difficulties during their degree. I organised a survey of our undergraduates to find out more about the LGBT+ learning experience, which was in general very positive as a result of ‘out’ role models. As a result of this survey, the department introduced named LGBT+ contacts.
As an adoptive father, I have advocated for part-time and flexible working, and took advantage of both of these during my own career.
My Twitter account, @professor_dave, has >7500 followers, and a key way in which I use this account is to advocate for a wide range of diversity issues.
In addition to LGBT+ advocacy, I am passionate about widening participation in Higher Education to under-represented groups. I am Academic Chair of the Next Step York and Realising Opportunities initiatives, which work with Year 12 and 13 students from underprivileged backgrounds. These schemes give students real experience of university study, and also support them through academic assignments which can count as part of their tariff for university entry. Every year, I speak to the WP students on their residentials in York, about my experience going to university from a very mixed comprehensive school in Stockport.