Trainees recognized for extraordinary DEI leadership

Eight UChicago Biosciences predocs and one postdoctoral fellow were recognized for their extraordinary efforts to support diversity, equity and inclusion efforts by the BSD Diversity Committee (BDC) on Monday, November 14, 2022 at a special award reception after the Autumn Quarter meeting. Dean David Kovar explained that the awards were given both to recognize our trainees incredible work but also "to communicate our division’s values around diversity and inclusion." "I invite you to listen carefully to the incredible ways these students have tackled the historical disparities that we all have a responsibility to address," Kovar explained "and I hope you leave here today feeling inspired to take your actions towards creating community that centers diversity equity and inclusion in every aspect of its work." Trainee efforts celebrated included work with program and departmental DEI committees, liaisons with local museums and groups for science outreach, and activities in support of international trainees. Sarah Paracha, Briana Banks, Bridget Chak and Kristina Fialko received commendations for their wide-ranging and ongoing leadership. Joash Lake and Lizeth Tamayo received BDC awards for their efforts.

Lake's commitment to DEI includes serving as a faculty lead lecturer for Target Hope, where he teaches over 60 high school students weekly on Saturdays. In this role, he has also brought UChicago professors to share their research with Target Hope students in areas related to Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, Microbial Ecology, and Paleontology. 

Tamayo is a co-founder of the National Association of LSAMP (Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation) Alumni (NALA). LSAMP is an NSF-funded program meant to increase the representation of marginalized groups in science. As a recipient of LSAMP grant, she co-led an initiative to unite all LSAMP alliances across the country to allow past trainees to stay connected and be a resource for current trainees.

Postdoctoral fellow Dr. Paul Maurizio was recognized with an award for his efforts to found the PAN Asian Student Coalition. He recruited faculty member Dr. Hae Kyung Im to advise the student group and also hired two student interns to assist in group management. Paul’s passion for inclusion is infectious and his energy and enthusiasm has helped many of his fellow trainees feel at home in the BSD.

The University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center recognized graduate students Rosemary Huggins and Juan Ibarra for their DEI efforts in the cancer research and education space. Huggins was recognized for helping organize visits to cultural heritage museums like the DuSable African American History Museum and the Museum of Mexican American Art. She also created a four-episode podcast called Black in Rx which interviewed researchers and DuSable historians about cancer and health care.

Ibarra served as the student co-chair of the BDC and helped organize the 1st BSD, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice retreat, which provided a space to design collaborative programming and policies to enhance inclusion within the BSD and the greater scientific community. Juan is currently serving as the president of the UChicago SACNAS chapter.

For more information on all the good work from our students, please see the individual articles in student awards and honors. We are so grateful for your work, commitment and leadership to make science education and action more inclusive, equitable and diverse.

Graduate students recognized for their outstanding efforts in the DEI space are Sarah Paracha (Cell and Molecular Biology), Juan Ibarra (Cancer Biology), Lizeth Tamayo (Public Health Sciences), Bridget Chak (GGSB), Briana Banks (Cancer Biology), Rosie Higgins (Cancer Biology), Joash Lake (Immunology) and Kristina Fialko (Ecology and Evolution).  Paul Maurizio, a postdoctoral fellow in MGCB was unable to attend.