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Equality & Diversity in iHEAD Research Initiative

i-HEAD is dedicated to empowering the career advancement of young researchers across all stages. Our mission extends to nurturing a new cohort of early-career scholars with expertise spanning immunity and metabolism within both photoautotrophic and heterotrophic hosts. We recognize the importance of tailored interdisciplinary training for young scientists to bolster their research profiles and hone specific skills. Our approach involves crafting a comprehensive framework for supporting and training students in various disciplines, including Genetics, Cell Biology, Biochemistry, Bioinformatics, Computational Biology, Structural Biology, and, in the future, Systems Engineering.

Through our integrated junior researcher support system, we will offer a diverse array of workshops led by local and external experts. In tandem with scientific advancement, we prioritize science communication and engagement, fostering participation in Citizen Science Projects and science policy initiatives. i-HEAD is actively involved in educational initiatives, including the inter-departmental Master program in Computational Sciences and the CEPLAS Bachelor program in Quantitative Biology. Our teaching concepts are tailored to the emerging field of "immunometabolism in health and disease," offering research assistantships, Bachelor, and Master thesis opportunities to undergraduate and graduate students.

For postdoctoral researchers, i-HEAD provides a specialized training program aimed at developing research profiles, teaching/mentoring capabilities, management and leadership skills, and expertise in public communication and citizen science. We facilitate professional networking and collaboration with stakeholders, policy makers, and industry partners through support from institutions like CEPLAS and Gateway at the University of Cologne. Moreover, the interdisciplinary nature of i-HEAD equips researchers for diverse career paths beyond academia.

Additionally, the promotion of gender equality and equal opportunities is a topic of utmost importance for i-HEAD. The promotion of gender equality, equal employment opportunities and a family-friendly work environment is an essential component of the mission statement of the UoC. UoC, CEPLAS and CECAD have established high-standard mentoring programs for female scientists at all career stages, including postdoctoral researchers and have developed specific programs to further increase the proportion of women in academic leadership positions. in the iHEAD initiative we strive to achieve gender equality for all positions that will be staffed. To reach this aim we take special measures to actively identify and recruit underrepresented minority and female scientists. In addition, we will organize a workshop on “unconscious bias” for all PIs of i-HEAD in cooperation with CECAD and CEPLAS, in order to increase awareness of factors that introduce bias in recruitment or promotion decisions.