Celebrating Our Community
We believe it's important to recognize and celebrate individuals who have overcome barriers, shown leadership, and contributed to a more inclusive and equitable environment in Biology. We are grateful for our community and their contributions to DEIB, and would like to share their story and achievements with our wider community. Keep reading to learn more about the amazing voices in our community!
An ecologist, Rodolfo Dirzo examines how the human enterprise affects biodiversity and how this in turn impacts the functioning of ecosystems and human wellbeing. Most of his work is conducted in the global south, involving Indigenous and Rural Peoples in the co-design and execution of the research, while centering environmental justice in the research. He is committed to DEI and maintains an inclusive lab that emphasizes diversity and belonging, while embracing the value of individuals and cultural diversity. His teaching (ecology, natural history, conservation science, Spanish in Science, bio-cultural diversity) highlights and celebrates the traditional ecological knowledge of local communities. He runs outreach educational programs for underserved populations (e.g., STEM for Latina Girls), using the Jasper Ridge Preserve as the “educational lab”. He serves as Associate Chair for Diversity and Inclusion in the E-IPER graduate program, he is member of the Steering Committee of the Haas Center for Public Service, and the Associate Dean for Environmental Justice in the Doerr School of Sustainability.
I’m Ty/Taylar, and I’m a fourth year in the program, but I’ve been at Stanford since my undergrad. I came here from rural Texas and a background of housing and food insecurity, extreme poverty, and family incarceration. I grew up very isolated and thinking that a lot of things in my life were normal. Coming to Stanford was the first time that I was able to process the reality of wealth disparity and the apathy toward class struggle. Since then, I’ve invested in values of community and accountability, highlighting them especially in my educational endeavors. I think interconnected care provides the groundwork to demand more as a united force and enforce community support.
In the department, I have focused primarily on education which I think is an ideal platform for planting seeds for future change. I founded the bioBUDS program in Winter of 2021 along with a wonderful team of 3 graduate students. Through this program we’ve been able to teach cool science as well as science citizenship, build community at the undergraduate level, provide paid internships for first-time researchers, and expand graduate teaching opportunities and community. Enthusiasm from graduate students led to the initiation of the Biosciences Classroom Design Workshop minicourse in Winter 2023. I have additionally chaired the Biology TA Mentorship Program, sat on the Undergraduate Studies Committee, and have served as the CMOB Department Student Representative since Winter 2022 where I have done my best to amplify graduate student voices to the administration.
Kelley Langhans is a Ph.D. student in Daily Lab the Department of Biology. Her research focuses on conservation solutions that benefit both people and nature. She aspires to bring justice to her work by focusing on how conservation can be implemented equitably, such that marginalized groups have equal access to nature’s benefits. Kelley is passionate about diversity, equity and inclusion in science, and is involved in efforts to increase DEI in her lab and the Natural Capital Project, facilitating regular meetings about DEI topics. In the Biology Department, she has served both the student DEI group and the official department DEI committee, with a focus on recruitment and retention of graduate students and creating anti-racist labs. Outside of Stanford, she works to increase access to culturally-relevant STEAM education for youth in marginalized communities in the Bay Area as the community engagement team lead for BioJam, a co-learning program rooted in community. A former Haas Center Graduate Public Service Fellow, she deeply values community-based research and performing science in service of community change.
I believe that participating in outreach activities and gaining experience leading outreach programs is an essential part of my PhD experience at Stanford. In the Biology PhD program we receive world-class training to conduct independent research and are provided with a wealth of resources to pursue the science we are passionate about. Like other parts of the US, we live in a community with monumentally unequal availability of opportunities, resources, and support for all community members. I have co-led bioBUDS and currently mentor undergraduate students in accordance with my bandwidth to expand resources, access, and support for all under-resourced students in the biosciences community at Stanford. This work is incredibly rewarding and provides me with the opportunity to practice the leadership soft-skills I will rely on in my future career. I am excited to see the Biology department moving towards compensating graduate students, post-docs, and undergraduates for their work in expanding departmental resources and generating meaningful outreach programs.
What drives me to volunteer my infinite time as a graduate student to DEIB is the sheer need for community. So when I saw there was some smattering of them in Bass, I figured there was more of them across other biology buildings that wanted connections outside of their lab group. And there hasn't been a queer group specifically for Bio students, so I created BioQueers. As exhausting as it is to operate within academia, I'm able to breathe a little when I can laugh and rant with my new-found queer friends without having to 'perform'. There are a lot of small little affirmations you don't realize when you're not with an intersectional group you strongly identify with-- like specific resources for queers in biology, identifying allies and safe spaces, unplanned dinners and hangouts, etc. Anyways, my contributions are minuscule, but I hope this space serves as a solace and a reminder that there is something for folks should they want to just pop in and say hi, eat snacks, or to just exist among other queers. Our doors are open every other Wednesday 5:30-6:30pm at Bass 122!
Hi! I’m Ev Nichols (she/they), a 4th year graduate student in Kang Shen’s lab and a co-instructor for BIO 114: bioBUDS (Building Up Developing Scientists). bioBUDS offers course-based programming in the fall, winter, and spring quarters that aims to 1. lower barriers to research participation for undergraduates from backgrounds historically excluded from science, 2. serve as a supportive community for scientists of all experience levels who are interested in developing research, mentorship, and/or teaching skills, and 3. spread joy about the biosciences. Over the 8 quarters we have offered bioBUDS, I have been motivated by seeing our students grow into the scientists they want to be. In parallel, I have used bioBUDS to develop my skills in pedagogy and to think critically about the best ways to support both research mentors and mentees. By combining these, I have crafted guided workshops for our flagship winter research internship meant to encourage holistic conversations between mentors and mentees around expectations, goals, and belonging. Taken together, this work has convinced me that collective action is one of our best tools for dismantling the many exclusive structures that remain at Stanford and in academia more broadly.
Postdoctoral Scholar at the Natural Capital Project, Stanford University, Department of Biology
As I progress through my career, I have observed the attrition of Latinas and scholars from marginalized groups (i.e., BIPOC, 2SLGBTQIA+, disabled people) as they transition from student to faculty. The lack of role models in ecology is problematic and needs to change. To increase representation of non-dominant voices in life sciences, I have invited Indigenous and Latinx speakers to seminar series and hosted a workshop on Stanford campus that brought together ecologists, musicians, and anthropologists, so we can better advance the science on biocultural diversity together.
Through my research, I have also started to elucidate how DEI efforts at universities are at risk of being ineffective because they are hiring based on census categories that fail to consider the spectrum of human diversity within groups and ignore the complexities inherent to dynamic, fluid, and intersectional identities (Echeverri, et al. 2022). Lastly, with 127 coauthors from Latin America, we recently published a study showing how the power imbalances between ornithologists in the Global North and those based in Latin America and the Caribbean can be addressed to decolonize Neotropical ornithology (Soares, et al. 2022).
Hello, my name is Andrea and I am from Inglewood, California (aka the City of Champions). I made my way up north for my undergraduate studies at UC Santa Cruz where I majored in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology. Like a lot of first-generation students I did not know about research or how to get started in a lab.
Thanks to a STEM Diversity program at UCSC I was introduced to the world of research and a strong sense of community. The community of support I had as an undergrad continues to be a strong motivator for me to find and expand that at Stanford, which is why I joined Hermanas in STEM and SACNAS in my first year of grad school. Now as co-president of Hermanas, I aim to carve a safe space for Latine students to discuss the challenges of science as an underrepresented student and advocate for a more supportive environment through community building, mentorship, and open discussion.
Working in a lab gives me a sense of belonging. There, I am a scientist who happens to be a non-traditional, first-generation to go to college, low-income, immigrant, queer, multiracial Latina woman. Having faced the difficulties of navigating academia while being underrepresented, I have a unique perspective and approach to research which I strive to represent in my own work. Therefore, in recognizing the hardships that scientists like me go through, I have dedicated a significant portion of my time to outreach and advocacy opportunities (i.e PUMAS, EYH, SSRP, CVI, AUI, PIPS, REACH, Biology Admission and Faculty Search committees) that seek to augment and support URMs early scientists and have mentored several undergraduate students from underrepresented or marginalized backgrounds. I am extremely proud that my mentees are, or will become, co-authors in the manuscripts resulting from my dissertation work. I am committed to continue this mentoring approach during my time in academia. My continuous goal is to include, and to support scientists with unique circumstances and backgrounds, because they offer an out-of-the-box point of view much needed in the scientific community.
As a first-generation college student from Brazil, applying to graduate school in the US was extremely challenging to the lack of financial and mentoring resources. Early in graduate school, I struggled finding mentors who were supportive of my interests in making academia a more welcoming and inclusive environment, resulting in me switching labs. Since then, I committed to a mission of helping underrepresented students to navigate graduate school, with initiatives focusing on admissions and belonging. Together with amazing team of students and faculty, we spearheaded the Biology Preview Program (BPP), a two-day workshop offering mentorship and resources for prospective applicants from historically excluded groups in academia. Since its creation in 2020, BPP has helped recruit many students to graduate programs across the country, including our own PhD program. I also served as a program leader for the Stanford Summer Research Program (SSRP) twice, mentoring undergraduate students from historically excluded groups on their summer research projects and application to graduate school. I also served as the chair of the Mentorship committee with the goal of building community for the incoming PhD students in the department. I believe my experiences and efforts can serve as inspirations for other students who may experience similar roadblocks in their academic journey.
Growing up in Puerto Rico I understood the stark difference in education with the mainland US. So when I got into MIT for undergrad I knew that my life was about to change for the better. Although I was aware of how much effort it would take for me to succeed academically, I did not know how much effort it would take to feel like I belonged. Coming as a 17 year old to the US, which has so much negative history with Puerto Rico including eugenics, military occupation and financial control, was way harder than I anticipated. Finding the support I needed as a minority in science not just academically but emotionally and socially was a struggle that I do not wish upon anyone. And unfortunately, the more advanced you get in academic settings, the less diversity there is and the harder it is to find belonging and support. That is why I have worked to improve DEIB efforts in both the graduate and undergraduate levels. By working with the BioBUDS program and the DEIB committee, my hope is that improving a sense of belonging in academia will diversify the student body and therefore diversify academia as a whole.