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The Node Network: a global directory of developmental and stem cell biologists

Posted by , on 23 January 2020

We’re excited to announce the launch of the Node Network, a global directory of developmental and stem cell biologists. The Node Network is designed to help those organising conferences, assembling committees, seeking speakers for seminar series, looking for referees and so on to identify individuals who might not otherwise come to mind.

The Network is entirely inclusive – any member of the developmental and stem cell biology community, at any stage of their career, can join. It is also designed to help promote diversity in our field – as well as providing information on scientific field, model organism, place of work and career stage, members can also voluntarily provide details on aspects of diversity such as gender, race/ethnicity, LGBTQ+ identity and disability status. You are welcome to give as much or as little information as you like. We hope the Network will help promote diversity at our conferences and make ‘manels’ a thing of the past, but it can also be used solely in terms of science.



The idea was first suggested to us by James Briscoe, Development’s Editor-in-Chief (check out his editorial, written with Executive Editor Katherine Brown, announcing the launch and discussing other aspects of inclusion and diversity). We were also influenced by initiatives like Anne’s List, DiversifyEEB and Diversify PlantSci – directories of women (or women plus under-represented minority) scientists which aim to help people looking to fill various roles (reviewer, speaker, panel member, etc) to diversify their pool.

After discussions with Development’s editors and board, we next considered whether the directory should be focused on diversity, or should be totally inclusive (but usable with diversity in mind). We also had to consider how we would display sensitive information in line with GDPR regulations – we consulted our in house GDPR and legal experts, and asked the Information Commissioner’s Office for advice. We also consulted the Wellcome Trust Diversity and Inclusion team for advice on terminology regarding diversity information.

But what we really needed to know was what you the community thought about the idea. Last summer we ran an extensive survey which got hundreds of responses, and were reassured (and delighted) to find that 99% of respondents would be interested in accessing such a directory, and 97% would consider adding themselves to it. The majority of respondents were in favour of something inclusive for the entire developmental biology and stem cell field, rather than something specifically labelled as a diversity directory – although there was still strong support for including diversity information. Survey respondents also shared ideas about how to develop the directory, and noted potential uses we hadn’t thought of (like collaboration and recruitment).

So then we built it (helped as ever by our IT Consultants), and it’s now live for you to use. Of course, it will only be helpful to the field if people use it, so please consider registering to access the Network, and if you’re happy with the idea of being contacted as a reviewer, speaker, panel member, collaborator etc., consider becoming a member too. You can also circulate this flyer (PDF link) to your lab, your peers, your departments and your societies!

For more information about how to use the Network, go to the homepage and follow the links. You can also read our information page and FAQs. You can get to the Network from elsewhere in the Node via the top menu bar. 


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