We Support Diversity for Many Reasons
1. It is the right thing to do.
2. Our lab is predominantly funded by the taxpayers of the United States. The population of the United States is diverse, and they deserve to have their concerns and interests investigated by scientific research. We do basic and applied research that improves US agriculture, health, and the environment. The best way to ensure we are meeting the goals of a diverse US is to have a group that reflects those diverse backgrounds.
3. Diverse teams are more functional and higher performing. Numerous studies and personal experience highlight that diversity is incredibly useful in defining the important questions to address (Freeman & Huang, 2015, 313; Phillips et al., 2014, 46). Coming up with the right question and hypothesis is frequently the biggest challenge in science. By bringing together scientists of all backgrounds, experiences, and identities from the US and world, we help identify the most important questions, the best set of hypotheses to test, and then develop approaches to address these.
How We Support Diversity
1. Because implicit bias is everywhere, we leverage and actively work with bureaucratic structures to reduce its impact.
2. We actively recruit and work to retain diverse scientists for graduate students, postdocs, and scientists. The graduate students and postdocs in the group frequently go on to lead their own groups in industry, government, or academia, where we hope the value of diversity is instilled and repeated.
3. Bias exists in hiring, promotion, awards, and favored scientific fields. We commit to actively combating inherent biases in our larger professional community. (Hofstra et al., 2020, 9288).
4. We read, learn, and try to understand more about the backgrounds and challenges that historically underrepresented populations face in science and larger society. We commit to having a weekly reading or discussion on this lack of diversity in STEM .
5. Underrepresentation of diverse populations begins very early in training, so that, for example, by the time students are getting PhDs, only 1.9% are Black Americans (National Science Foundation, 2019). We have found that high schoolers can be wonderful contributors to our science (e.g., our high school robotic rover team). We have failed to engage this age group from underserved communities. We are beginning a new effort in the group and with the USDA to initiate internships at the undergraduate and high school level with a new focus on recruiting from URMs.
6. We will actively participate in scientific societies that support the inclusion and development of a diverse scientific workforce (e.g., MANRRS and SACNAS). We will not participate in meetings or scientific societies that do not attempt to reflect society's diversity.
7. We will continue to reevaluate over time how our efforts to diversify the scientific community can be most effectively focused.
Freeman and Huang (2015) Collaborating with People Like Me: Ethnic Coauthorship within the United States
- Phillips et al., (2014) How Diversity Works
Hofstra et al., (2020) The Diversity-Innovation Paradox in Science
National Science Foundation, (2019) Doctor Recipients from U.S. Universities, 2018