A valuable member of our research team, Mira Katsur is completing her PhD at the Hatter Cardiovascular Institute, focusing on exosomes and their role in cardioprotection. With Covid-19 restrictions and lockdowns stalling research activities over this past winter, Mira found herself with time to spare. Instead of binging on box sets however, Mira turned her attention to how she could improve staff and student experiences at UCL.
Reading through the latest UCL disability report, Mira, a postgraduate student representative for the Institute of Cardiovascular Science, found that students with visible and invisible disabilities experience plenty of difficulties during their studies, most of which are preventable. She applied for ChangeMakers project funding to implement two changes in her institute. Together with another student representative and staff member, she prepared a document for new students with information about what disability is, what help is available in the UCL and where to turn for help. Moreover, this information currently included into the presentation for induction of new students in the Institute. She also agreed with the Head of Student Welcome & Induction that this information will be included into online module for all new UCL students in the nearest future:
Further, she agreed with Heads of Research Departments and Institute leads that staff will have training on disability starting from the 2021/2022 academic year. The institute staff will be trained how to talk about disability, how they can provide informal solutions to help their students before formal support is provided by the UCL, and how to make offices and laboratories to be suitable and attractive for prospective students with disabilities. She is currently arranging tailored staff training with Enhance the UK, a charity led by disabled people, and Head of Student Support and Wellbeing in the UCL.
Through this work, Mira caught the attention of UCL Communications. They have launched a new blog campaign called ‘Class of 21’ which will feature 21 students and student groups who have gone above and beyond this year in a series of posts, videos and stories. Hearing about all her great contributions as an Academic Rep, she was asked to participate. Her blog post can be read here.
Great work Mira!