You have got to think about how all of the structures within the entire institution actually will support or not the kinds of changes that we know need to happen to really diversify STEM – and bringing in a more inclusive and welcoming environment.Shirley Malcom (SEA Change)
I use the tools of anthropology combined with my experiences as an educator and researcher to examine the culture of higher education. I seek to identify specific ways to transform higher education systems to provide a space to engender diverse and equitable communities. An approach that places the onus on the institution, not the individual. That is, to design tools and approaches that change the structures and systems that support inequities.
In July 2023, I was appointed Associate Dean of STEM Equity – to support the Graduate School. I work to develop and institutionalize student mentoring programs, lead funded projects, and present on key topics in higher education.
In 2020, I designed and launched the Undergraduate Program for Exploration and Research in Social Sciences (UPERSS). This program provides real-world research experiences for undergraduate students. In 2022, I expanded this program to connect to an experiential research and mentorship program, Mentoring Experiences for Graduates (MEG). MEG provides collaborative cross-generational research and mentoring experience. Graduate students lead a mentoring team (i.e., graduate mentor, undergraduate mentee, and faculty advisor) on a semester-long research experience.
I am the PI on an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for Creating Equitable Pathways to STEM Graduate Education. Our grant, “Building Cross-Institutional Alliances through STEM Graduate Education and Athletic-Mentoring.” seeks to extend athletic mentoring programs to increase educational pathways and access to post-graduate STEM.
Our planning grant responds to the Sloan Foundation’s efforts to “dismantle systemic barriers and create sustainable pathways to graduate education.” Support – such as mentoring and onboarding, are essential to addressing systemic inequities and supporting STEM education. Our grant builds on Sloan’s call for systemic change and is designed to broaden participation, identify and build institutional capacity, and drive change in STEM graduate higher education culture.
I co-designed an institutional capacity index with Dean Will Cantrell. I define institutional capacity as the ability of an institution (i.e., the university) to support student success and create an inclusive culture through its programs, systems, and resources. The Institutional Capacity Index is a tool that is used in connection with data collection, discussions with senior campus leadership and graduate directors, and analyses of DEI initiatives.
Our team is part of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) SEA Change Initiative.