Skip to Main Content


Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Diversity Statement

In order to meet the immense challenge of deciphering the complexity of biology, it is essential to harness the ideas of people of all backgrounds. However, we recognize that many groups have been historically marginalized in both society and science. We recognize these challenges and historical inequities and are committed to making our community welcoming to scholars and staff with diverse backgrounds.

Charge of our DEI Committee

Acknowledging the importance and extent of the tasks we are facing, the department has created the departmental DEI committee, a standing committee consisting of individuals representing all constituents of the department. The committee is charged with providing recommendations for departmental DEI initiatives that will create an equitable and inclusive environment for all.

Mission of the DEI Committee

The Standing Committee on DEI seeks to reduce barriers in order to support all Department of Cell Biology members in the pursuit of their career goals. In particular, we recognize and seek to remove challenges faced by racial and ethnic minorities, women and gender minorities, the LGBTQ+ community, people with disabilities, and first-generation and economically disadvantaged individuals. Through these efforts, we aim to build a system of ongoing positive change in order to create an environment that is welcoming to all.

Department of Cell Biology DEI Goals for 2023

The Department has identified three main thrusts in the scope of DEI:

  • Recruitment and Retention to diversify our Department community at all levels
  • Inclusion through an emphasis of DEI training, DEI initiatives and transparent communication
  • Advancement of underrepresented groups through better support for fellowship and award opportunities and improved faculty mentorship.

Specific goals have been defined for 2023 through a process that included input from the DEI committee and dialog with the cell biology community. Many of the activities related to these goals are expected to become part of the department culture and will carry forward into subsequent years. We also expect that new ideas will emerge and will be incorporated into future plans.

Starting in 2023, we commit within this framework to the following concrete goals:

  1. Improve Mentor-Mentee Communication
    • During a doctoral student survey listening session in Fall of 2022, trainees expressed a desire for an improved understanding of faculty expectations of graduate students and postdoctoral associates/fellows for their training and development through a written exercise. We will work with the BBS program and others on developing a suitable mechanism for graduate students and will develop suggestions for comparable mechanisms for non-graduate student trainees in the department.
  2. Strengthen Communication between Department and its Members
    • To strengthen the communication between department leadership and department members, as well as promote the accessibility of department leadership, we will create a quarterly open lunch series with the department’s Executive Committee.
  3. Increase Trainee Presentations at Department Retreat
    • Incorporating more trainee presentations at the retreat will provide an opportunity (in addition to the weekly Report in Progress talks) to increase exposure of our students and postdocs at the department level and help attract new students from diverse backgrounds and research interests to our department. Faculty and trainees are in agreement that the annual Cell Biology Department Retreat should feature more oral presentations by trainees in the department.
  4. Increase Postdoctoral Recruitment of URMs:
    • Better representation of diversity at the postdoctoral level contributes to fixing the “leaky pipeline problem” of recruiting faculty from groups underrepresented in science. To increase postdoctoral recruitment of URMs to the department, we will focus on two goals:
      1. Increase visibility of external URM graduate students
      2. Increase the number of postdocs from historically excluded groups in the department
  5. Provide an Annual Introductory DEI Workshop for new Department Members
    • Every year we have new people join our department, and they all have different levels of experience and engagement with diversity, equity and inclusion. To get everyone on the same page, we plan to offer an annual introductory DEI workshop for new members of the department. This workshop will complement workshops on more advanced DEI-related topics that will serve the goal of continued learning and engagement of the department community.
  6. Create Time for Community Building Including all Labs and Offices in the Department
    • COVID has disrupted personal interactions between labs and offices in the department. We will create platforms and opportunities for social interactions to reconnect and strengthen the department community.
  7. Continue Support for Key Goals of 2022
    • Most of our Goals for 2022 have been completed or are close to conclusion, but many require continued support or still need to be completed. The department is committed to continuing these efforts and welcomes feedback from the community.