What We Do
Lack of visibility is a major barrier for retention of Black scientists in academia. While visibility seems like a small thing, several national surveys and publications have indicated that Black postdocs feel invisible at their respective institutions. Even when winning prestigious grants and awards, many express that they are rarely highlighted in university publications/social media/websites. This also has an impact on graduate students from underrepresented groups and their perception of how likely they are to succeed in a postdoc position.
The YBPA leadership created several programs/initiatives to improve visibility of its members as well as Black scientists outside of the Yale community. These initiatives are in alignment with Yale University’s commitment to improving diversity across the campus.
- Emerging Scholars Program: The YBPA hosts 3 advanced Black postdocs or early career faculty, as advised by Minority Organization for Retention and Expansion (MORE), to give a research talk. The invited scholar gives a research talk that is open to the entire Yale community and meets with select faculty, postdocs, and graduate students.
- Travel grants: The YBPA, as supported by the DEI office, has grants set aside to send some of Yale’s promising fellows to present at conferences, increasing their visibility and promoting networking that can improve career outcomes. Learn how to apply here.
- Intersections Science Fellow Symposium: The YBPA collaborated to plan and execute the inaugural Intersections Science Fellows Symposium in 2021.
- Member Spotlights: YBPA will regularly feature members on social media, via efforts like “Fly Fridays”, and through our newsletter and website, where we will share news about member awards, publications and other achievements.
The YBPA is passionate about giving back to the community and helping to foster the next generation of scientists. Specifically, we believe it is important for budding scientists of color to be able to imagine themselves someday leading a lab or designing the next vaccine, and many of us know first-hand how impactful it is to have role models who look like you. In order to ensure that every young child can see themselves being a scientist, we’ve designed the following plans to connect ourselves to the local community and beyond:
Connecting with the New Haven community
- We raised money for a local high school after learning their food pantry had closed due to Covid-19, demonstrating that scientists care about more than equations and bench work.
- We formed a partnership with NERD Squad to bring science kits to local 3rd and 4th graders to support at home science during the pandemic.
Connecting beyond New Haven
- Our members have been interviewed by elementary school reporters interested in learning about the life of a scientist.
- During the pandemic, our members have ‘visited’ classrooms virtually to discuss their work in presentations appropriate for the age level and to engage students in thinking about what as scientist does on an average day.
The YBPA aims to expand upon the great career development programming currently offered at Yale and specifically by the Yale Postdoctoral Association, to offer additional training on topics relevant to its members. Additionally, YBPA aims to create opportunities for networking, not only in the broad sense, but also with faculty and industry professionals who are also from underrepresented backgrounds and can speak to aspects of their career experiences that may be unique.
Invited speakers and Workshops
In 2020-2021 we hosted several events:
- November 2020: “Wine Down with Raven the Science Maven.” A conversation on the importance of being unapologetically yourself in science.
- April 2021: “Natural Hair and the Law with Tracy Sanders, Esq.” Our speaker shared insights on natural hair, natural hairstyles, employment discrimination, and best practices for employers and employees. Attendees learned about The Crown Act, a law that prohibits discrimination based on hairstyles historically associated with race, which the state of Connecticut passed in early 2020. Recording can be found here.
- July 2021: “Alternatives to Academia: Careers in Research and Policy with Dr.Alexandra Duncan who discussed careers outside academia. Dr. Duncan had a follow-up, candid conversation with postdocs and graduate students where she discussed the intricacies of entering science policy.
- Monthly meetings and virtual socials
- Our 2-month Wellness challenge in the Spring of 2021 included a virtual cooking class and free workout classes from local gyms
- In conjunction with Yale Postdoctoral Association’s (YPA) Symposium and Racial Justice Subcommittees, we designed and planned a panel discussion entitled “With Great Power comes Great Responsibility: How to Incorporate Activism into your Career” during YPA’s Annual Symposium where two of the E-Board members sat as panelists.
- Joint virtual social with the Harvard Black Postdoctoral Association
- Co-hosted an event on entrepreneurship with the National Black Postdoctoral Association
- Collaborations with several groups to bring new programming to Yale, such as with the Union of Concerned Scientists, which offer programs on advocating science policy.