MANY BRIGHT STUDENTS, NOT ENOUGH APPLICANTS
Our students and faculty have observed a lack of diversity among incoming graduate students year after year. This was a problem because it suggested that our fields of study might be inaccessible to certain people, but we weren’t sure why. As scientists, our instincts said to look at the data and draw conclusions. We found that the number applications from underrepresented students was extremely low, not that these applicants were not competitive. We want to ensure that Black, Latino, Native American, Pacific Islander and first generation college students (collectively described as underrepresented minorities, URM) have exposure to our departments, our research, and our resources. While there are many causes for the low volume of URM applications to our graduate programs, we hope to change the trend by connecting with high achieving URM students who are considering STEM careers.
DIVERSE DEPARTMENTS THRIVE
Diversity is a cornerstone of an equitable and socially conscious community, as well as a valuable component of a productive work environment. Diverse teams are often more creative and productive than homogenous ones, but to create diverse teams, barriers to participation must be addressed and dismantled. Valuing differences of experience among students enhances productivity and creativity, and can lead to greater innovation and excellence in research. By actively engaging with URM students and cultivating inclusive attitudes among mentors, we hope to create a positive feedback for sustained inclusion and equity in our departments.