Talent in Diversity: Black History Month 2022 Part 1

We’re celebrating Black History Month 2022 with PRISM, the Crick’s race equity network, by highlighting the diversity of talent we have here at Crick. Throughout October, we’re sharing interviews highlighting our Crick colleagues and the work they do.  


Marie Green, support officer

Profile picture of Marie Green

Being part of front of house, my role entails supporting management, visitors and staff. I handle all administration and other supportive tasks. Important factors are having a high level of organisational and communication skills.

What does your work entail?

As a member of front of house staff, I’m often the first point of contact for visitors. Whether they’re here to see the exhibition, attend a conference, visit a researcher, or they’re a contractor of some sort, it’s my job to help them with whatever they need in a friendly way. To do this, I need to know as much as I can about what’s happening in and around the building, and I work closely with many different people here at the Crick to make sure I’m up to speed.

How do you feel that your background benefits your work?

I was raised in a multicultural society, and working at the Crick has allowed me to further broaden my understanding of different cultures and races. I’m able to see other people’s points of view, even when they don’t quite match my own. I find it easy to work with individuals no matter what their role is or where they work. 

I feel diversity promotes peace, but it also makes our society a more interesting place to live. Different cultures have different beliefs and interests which I find intriguing, and I like to share the ways I was taught to do things while growing up. For example, when I have purpose, I feel more directed and certain about my life and the directions in which I’m heading. Purpose brings me deeper feelings of security.

What were your motivations to study/work at The Crick?

Each person responds to different drives and motivations, and I believe there is plenty of opportunity in the world to go around. I strive to find the motivation to go out and make these opportunities happen for myself and my family. I can point to a number of things that make my career at the Crick not only more fruitful, but also more enjoyable.

There is nothing more fulfilling than knowing that what I contribute to the Crick makes a significant difference. So much time in our lives is spent at work, so I believe it’s important to find a way to make our careers meaningful for ourselves and others. When I see that what I contribute makes a difference, it makes my career and my purpose feel that much more rewarding. When I am inspired by the people I work with, I am more motivated to get up and go to work every day.

I am also a person who likes be challenged. I want to see and prove that I can leap over whatever hurdles are placed in front of me, and the unpredictability of working in a scientific institution means I’m often presented with these opportunities. Being faced with challenges like these is exactly how I develop the resiliency that keeps me motivated and striving for what is next.

When the going gets tough, I remember that success is often easier when working with others. Being connected to other individuals and teams brings me into meaningful relationships, where we can support each other towards accomplishing our mutual goals.

I feel a strong sense of belonging at the Crick, and I feel it has helped me develop as a person and as part of a wider community.

Who is your Black Hero?

I have many Black Heroes and Heroines, but the one who means the most to me is my grandmother. She taught me what it means to be a strong Black woman. Throughout her life, she had to face many trials and tribulations, and through all of these she managed to build a safe and strong threshold for her whole family.

Being one of the eldest granddaughters, I had a particularly special bond with my grandmother. Over the years she became my mentor, my safety-net, my best friend, my guardian, and most of all my inspiration. At 90+ years old, now living in the UK, my grandmother still advises and looks out for us all. I hope one day to be half the woman she is; may she continue to keep strong.

Chris Bailey, clinical research fellow

Chris Bailey at the Crick

My name is Chris Bailey. I am a clinical research fellow in Charlie Swanton's lab. I am in my 3rd year of a PhD at the Crick, working in the field of Cancer Evolution and Genome instability.

What does your work entail? 

I have been a doctor for the last 10 years, mainly looking after patients with Haematological disorders such as leukaemia and lymphoma.

I have taken time out of my training programme to pursue my research interest in cancer evolution, specifically genomic structural and copy number variation in cancer with a focus on how large circular cancer DNA structures affect the way tumours progress over time.

I am part of a large lab with colleagues working on the TRACERx study which set out to explore the association between tumour heterogeneity and clinical outcome and has become a rich platform to explore exciting ideas and novel science.

How do you feel that your background benefits your work? 

I am of mixed heritage, my Mum is from Ghana and emigrated to the UK in the 80’s. She is of Kassena-Nankani origin, a region in North-East Ghana. My Dad is from England, is in STEM and has done a lot of work in West Africa, working to eradicate trachoma.

Three specific ways I believe my background benefits my work:

  • I was born in Southampton but much of my childhood was spent in the Gambia, West Africa. My parents ensured that I had a strong sense of identity being Black British and West African in terms of roots but I was also raised with support among white and black friends and family in England to understand both sides to my heritage. This helped me mix with people from all walks of life at school, in the environments where I grew up and at university. I was also given a strong sense of the value of kindness and respect, regardless of background, employment, class and values, and the ability to appreciate the differences in people.
  • Growing up in Southampton, my mum also taught me, as a black British boy, that you have to work 10 times as hard as your peers. I still hear those words in my ears, and I think this has given me a work ethic that serves me well.
  • I am also motivated to show that people from any background should be free to pursue what they want and not be limited by preconceptions and stereotypes.

What were your motivations to study/work in STEM? 

I love science, medicine and people and have enjoyed the sciences since I was a child. I value the interaction with patients and enjoy the research pursuit. This combination lends itself well to a career as a clinician scientist. I also liked maths at school!

Also, I like the feeling of hope that what we do might make a difference one day, and that some of the work may have an impact on the field for the future. On a day-to-day basis, I like working in teams and bouncing ideas of other people.

As it’s Black History Month, who is your Black Hero?

  • Got loads(!)… need to break it down as there are many people I find inspiring for different reasons:
  • The orators throughout history that make inspiration effortless, such as Angela Davis, Maya Angelou, Michelle Obama.
  • Those who have left a legacy, such as Henrietta Lacks
  • Those people who have shown bravery through adversity, including the GOAT (greatest of all time) athletes of today, such as Serena Williams and Lewis Hamilton and of course people such as Nelson Mandela, Marcus Garvey and Mohammed Ali.
  • People doing key work for the local and wider community from Dianne Abbott, David Lammy, Lady Phyll and Baroness Scotland for the Commonwealth.
  • And of course the scientists of old! Such as Dorothy Vaughan and George Washington Carver.
  • But overall I would say my Mum <3

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