ALBA-FKNE Diversity Prize 2024 Winner

Prof. Narender Ramnani Awarded 2024 ALBA-FKNE Diversity Prize


I’m hugely honoured, and grateful to the people and organisations that have supported my work. The ALBA-FKNE Diversity Prize shines a light on the fact that even when we find that talent is everywhere, but opportunity is not, change is still possible. Let’s shatter the glass ceilings that prevent talented people from contributing their excellence to our field. - Prof. Narender Ramnani

Vienna, 29 June 2024Prof. Narender Ramnani from Royal Holloway, University of London, UK, has been awarded the 2024 ALBA-FKNE Diversity Prize for his contributions to advancing diversity and inclusion in brain research. This prestigious award, a joint recognition by the ALBA Network and the FENS-Kavli Network of Excellence (FKNE) and supported by the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS), highlights Europe-based students or researchers who have made outstanding contributions to promoting diversity in brain sciences. 

Dr Željka Krsnik (University of Zagreb, Croatia), Chair of the ALBA network, expressed, “The idea behind this prize is not just to recognise the incredible contributions to improving diversity by a single individual, but also to help inspire the entire community and remind us of how change is possible through collective efforts.” Dr Andrew Lin (University of Sheffield, UK), chair of the ALBA-FKNE Diversity Prize Selection Committee, added, “We strive for diversity in neuroscience to ensure the world benefits from everyone's talents and ideas, regardless of background or identity, and to allow everyone the opportunity to participate in the exciting process of understanding how the brain works. Narender has been a steadfast advocate for EDI in neuroscience for many years. His thoughtful, supportive approach and his ability to consider the viewpoints of minority groups have undoubtedly improved EDI across UK neuroscience. His work in challenging the gatekeepers of research funding has had a significant impact on UK policymakers, making him a deserving recipient of this award and an excellent role model for our community.”

Narender Ramnani, a professor of neuroscience in the Department of Psychology at Royal Holloway, University of London, received the award and a €2,000 prize for his impactful outreach and advocacy efforts. His current roles include President Elect of the British Neuroscience Association (BNA); Vice Dean for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in the School of Life Sciences and the Environment at Royal Holloway; member of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Expert Advisory Group; and member of the Advisory Council of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee, an All Party Parliamentary Group which provides a forum for scientists and parliamentarians to interact. 

His notable efforts include challenging the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the UK’s largest research funding organisation, on the diversity of their Research Council Committees. UKRI’s budget (2022-23) of over £8 billion has represented about half the UK’s public total spending on research and development (R&D). In 2020, Prof. Ramnani submitted a Freedom of Information request to UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), which funds a large fraction of the neuroscience research in the UK, to assess the ethnic composition of their grant assessment committees. His comprehensive analysis and report for the House of Commons Science and Technology inquiry on Diversity in Science resulted in an invitation to present oral evidence as an ‘expert witness’ in Parliament. His testimony highlighted significant disparities, including the lack of Black committee participation in BBSRC committees over five years, resulting in real impact on UK policymakers. 

In addition to his work with the UKRI, within the neuroscience community, Prof. Ramnani has guided the BNA in improving its practices, such as introducing minimum requirements for women speakers at BNA meetings. He has also been pivotal in the BNA's Scholars Programme for under-represented ethnic groups in neuroscience.

The award was announced on Saturday 29th June 2024 at 12:45 pm CEST at a dedicated ceremony during the FENS Forum 2024 in Vienna, Austria, and on ALBA and FENS social media channels.