Experience & Leadership in Fostering Equity & Diversity
Throughout my doctoral and postdoctoral career, I have worked to champion diversity and inclusion in science and higher education. As a Caucasian male, I am fortunate that I have not had to face many of the difficulties that face scientists from non-traditional or under-represented groups. However, I do come from a lower-middle-class family and grew up in a rural, economically-depressed area, and after beginning at a community college, I was among the first in my family to earn a bachelor’s degree, providing me with some direct perspective on the difficulties in navigating academia. My Ph.D.-granting institution, the University of Texas at Arlington, is the 5th most diverse campus in the U.S. and a Hispanic Serving Institution, and it exposed me to cultural diversity I had not previously experienced. While this environment provided many opportunities for me to interact with and teach students and colleagues from diverse demographic groups, I also witnessed the obstacles that members of under-represented groups face in traditional higher education and research environments.
As a result of my experiences, I have worked to foster an inclusive environment both locally and internationally. As a graduate student, I mentored several undergraduates from under-represented groups in research projects in the lab, including 3 McNair and 1 LSAMP students. Two of these students are co-authors on published chapters of my dissertation and 3 have moved into graduate research programs. As a founding member of my PI’s lab at UT-Arlington, I mentored 3 female colleagues, and as a postdoctoral researcher, I mentored an undergraduate of South Asian descent.
In serving as a member of the Graduate Student Advisory Council (GSAC) for the Society for the Study of Evolution (SSE), I worked to promote diversity and inclusion by providing feedback as the society created and ratified of the SSE Code of Conduct. At two recent Evolution Meetings, I also served as an Evo Ally, a group of evolutionary biologists carefully selected to represent a broad array of demographics and life experiences. I served as a visible colleague who is available to offer support to Evolution Meeting participants who are targets of, or who witness, inappropriate behavior. In my capacity as an Evo Ally, I received training in conflict intervention and assisting victims of inappropriate behavior. The feedback from the broader community was overwhelmingly positive and I received several inquiries on how attendees could help to further ensure a safe meeting environment.
Future Commitment to Ensuring Equity & Inclusion
I am committed to working with existing campus programs and resources to provide an inclusive and diverse environment where my colleagues feel safe and welcome. As an educator, I plan to implement several practices to foster an inclusive and equal learning environment. For example, I will use collaborative activities to encourage student interaction, helping to promote exposure to diverse ideas and perspectives. I plan to build flexibility into courses I teach that allows students to select learning materials (e.g., reading, audio-visual, or activity lessons) that provide them the best chance to demonstrate their understanding. I will also gauge student learning using a variety of assessments and will avoid the biased perception of student success that can result when using a small number of homogenous evaluations.
As a mentor, I aim to recruit students and trainees from diverse backgrounds, striving to maintain gender balance and a multicultural laboratory environment. I will institute a lab code of conduct that promotes a safe and inclusive environment and that helps to ensure professional interactions between my mentees and among other colleagues and scientists. I will strive to organize social and professional experiences that ensure lab members experience a safe, enjoyable, and productive environment. Finally, I will solicit feedback to continually improve the actions I take to maintain an inclusive and diverse environment where students and trainees can reach their potential.
Last Updated: 2022-10-01