Life Sciences’ Diversity Advisory Committee (DAC) has been working with Dean Johnson– to identify, define and advance priorities to promote Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) across the division. The DAC’s guidance is valued for its representation, which includes faculty from all of Life Sciences’ departments; also members who represent staff, postdoctoral fellows, graduate students and undergraduates.
Life Sciences’ Dean, in collaboration with the DAC have been:
Promoting Effective Mentoring Practices
On April 8, 2022, Life Sciences’ DAC and Molecular Biology Institute invited Michigan State University professor, Beronda L. Montgomery to UCLA, to give two seminars: a scientific research seminar and a mentoring seminar for Life Sciences’ community. In her mentoring seminar: “Drawing on Inclusive Practices to Mentor Effectively”, Dr. Montgomery shared her mentoring expertise and insightful perspectives with our faculty and students–and challenged problematic assumptions and practices in academia that lead to exclusion and a lack of diversity in higher education. She also provided a unique framework for considering the mentor-mentee relationship, and illustrated ways to mentor for better outcomes for mentees and for science.
Following her talk, UCLA CEILS facilitated a workshop to foster conversations among students and faculty to help identify issues that could be addressed, and to consider better ways of moving forward.
Defining the role of GREs (Graduate Record Examinations) for graduate school admissions
Several years ago, the DAC made the recommendation for Life Sciences departments to eliminate/devalue the use of GRE scores for admission to its graduate programs. Research has shown that GRE scores are not predictive of a student’s future success, and that they disadvantage students from diverse backgrounds. Since then, all of Life Sciences’ departments no longer require the GRE for applying to their graduate programs, and there has been an increase in underrepresented-minority graduate students in Life Sciences.
DAC members, working across departments and graduate programs, have seen the impact of changing how the GRE is used. By having conversations, across the division and with the dean, they are hoping to define a divisional approach which can be shared with campus partners with whom they jointly run graduate programs.
Moving Forward with Anti-Racism Taskforce Recommendations
After recommendations for action were laid out by Life Sciences Anti-Racism Taskforce, departmental Anti-Racism Taskforces were established to define and prioritize actions for their own departments.
The dean and DAC have been working to define and coordinate how data will be collected to track progress and ensure that implementation is going well, and as intended. They are also identifying how they can work with campus partners, tapping into shared needs, end-goals, and synergies, to collaborate and share methods and tools for effective change.
Improving DEI at an institutional level by joining SEA Change
The Division of Life Sciences joined SEA Change, an initiative and program created by the American Association for the Advancement of Science that provides tools – for self-assessment, data collection, and analysis of internal data – to make equity, diversity and inclusion part of the academic culture, at an institutional level.
The DAC has been guiding the dean on how our division will engage in SEA Change, helping her answer foundational questions like: how can we leverage participation in SEA Change to advance institutional transformation to promote equity, diversity, and inclusion? How can we synergize our efforts and collaborate across divisions? What kind of data is necessary to inform action? Where can we get that data? What does success look like?
Here in this Q&A, Dean Tracy Johnson provides more information about SEA Change, and the Division of Life Sciences’ involvement as charter members.