Demystifying and discussing the influences and customs that shape science as a profession

Online forum shares resources for improving opportunities for scientists around the world

Roz poster exhibition at Lab 4

A career in science is often fulfilling and satisfying, yet challenging. The Rosalind Franklin Forum for Female Scientists, Open to All (Roz) was co-founded by Prof. Paola Laurino, head of the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST)’s Protein Engineering and Evolution Unit, to support scientists through uncertainty and stress brought about by research, teaching, supervision, fundraising, and many more activities related to scientific careers.  

Roz, launched in September 2022, offers support on an extensive range of academic topics related to research collaborations, supervision, and interdisciplinarity, among others. The forum focuses on improving confidence, access, opportunities, and inclusivity in science by providing advice from senior female professors and researchers around the world. These experts, who include several Nobel laureates, volunteer their time to provide career advice based on their decades of experience.  

“Mentors are often very busy and there are proportionally few women among them. We want to improve democratization of access to important insider information and support for all scientists,” Prof. Laurino explained. “In our initial step, the Roz questionnaire collected answers to five universal questions from 25 international, senior female scientists. In reply they give sincere, open-hearted opinions and advice. We disseminate these through our website to scientists all over the world.” 

To help inspire awareness, debate, and activism, Roz created striking posters of vibrant, determined scientists who are forum users and supporters from around the world. A poster exhibition of the portraits was held at OIST from June 1–19 to promote the forum’s activities and the support it offers to scientists in training, as well as established practitioners. These beautiful images can be downloaded at no cost from the Roz web page

Roz poster exhibition at OIST's tunnel gallery
The Rosalind Franklin Forum for Female Scientists, Open to All (Roz) poster exhibition was displayed at OIST’s tunnel gallery (above), skywalk, and Lab 4 from 1-19 June 2023.

In 2022 Roz was awarded funding from the Rita R. Colwell Impact Fund for the Advancement of Women in Science, established by the OIST Foundation. In the same year, OIST participated in the Science Summit at the 77th United Nations General Assembly. The summit’s theme was The Role of Science and Innovation in Attaining the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Former President and CEO of OIST, Dr. Peter Gruss, Prof. Laurino, OIST researcher Saacnicteh Toledo Patino, and students Thato Mokhothu and Erika Fukuhara presented a session titled “Roz: Supporting Scientific Careers through Inclusivity, Interactivity, and Internationalism.” 

The forum has expanded its activities to include a Roz soft-skills question-and-answer webpage that currently answers 80 questions from graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, assistant professors, and research supervisors. Roz also offers help with organizing group meetings and writing research reports. The forum’s “Anatomy of a Research Report” guides scientists in delivering high-quality oral and written presentations. 

Future plans include making access to information on the Roz webpage more interactive and easier to personalize. Prof. Laurino is planning to use online games to promote soft skills in science and will publish Rosalind Junior, an illustrated book to inspire children to pursue science. 

Roz is targeting SDG goals associated with access to education and gender equality as part of OIST’s SDG initiative. “We get great feedback from scientists who tell us that the information we provide is very useful and important for them. We hope to become a standard for inclusivity projects in academia. Inclusivity through equal access to important information is our motto,” Prof. Laurino stated. She is constantly on the lookout for opportunities to secure funding for future Roz projects. 

Prof. Laurino was recently interviewed by the prestigious journal Nature Catalysis, together with Roz co-founder Professor Moni Hamolsky, from the University of California, San Diego, on the forum’s work and ambitions for the future. Nature Catalysis is a highly acclaimed journal that publishes research on chemistry and related fields. The Roz interview can be accessed here.   

For more information on Roz or to access its support, please visit Roz Forum | OIST Groups


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